A Zero-cost, No risk Long-term Investment that may go ballistic or never materialise; It will take you a minute a join - Would you, and more importantly, Should you?

in #money4 years ago (edited)

In the past couple of weeks, a message has been going viral in social media circles such as Facebook and texting apps such as WhatsApp. It is very likely that some friend or acquaintance of yours has already shared this message (I have done this within my close circle of family and friends too) and you would have naturally ignored it!

The content of the text goes like this:

“Initiative Q is an attempt by ex-PayPal guys to create a new payment system instead of credit cards that were designed in the 1950s. The system uses its own currency, the Q, and to get people to start using the system once it's ready they are allocating Qs for free to people that sign up now (the amount drops as more people join - so better to join early). Signing up is free and they only ask for your name and an email address. There's nothing to lose but if this payment system becomes a world leading payment method your Qs can be worth a lot. If you missed getting bitcoin seven years ago, you wouldn't want to miss this.

Here is my invite link: https://initiativeq.com/invite/BZ6kStRim

This link will stop working once I’m out of invites. Let me know after you registered, because I need to verify you on my end."

Now, for most people, including me, the first thought on seeing the message would be scepticism - obviously, this is precisely the kind of message that sets off your 'SCAM' alert from a mile away. In fact, that's the precise reason why 9/10 people who see the message will totally disregard it. Even the people who keep sharing the message, think barely beyond ‘get-rich-quick’ and seldom bother taking 30 minutes of their time to go beyond reading what’s on the landing page of the website, or understand the general consensus around it, or the team behind it from external legitimate sources.

While I too initially found the whole idea of ‘Q’ rather far-fetched, I decided to do a quick little study around it by going though both external references and the company website pages and here’s what I found:

The Crux of the Idea:

The company wants to create a vast network of individuals and subsequently launch a payment system with its own private currency and promote mass adoption that will help it take over a part of the $20 Trillion Global credit card economy.

A notable point is that Q’s 'economic and monetary models' were developed by Lawrence White, a well-known economics professor at George Mason University who favours the idea of free banking and wants to abolish the Federal Reserve System.

The Founder and his Credentials

Israeli-born Saar Wilf has some excellent credentials as a serial entrepreneur and his primary claim to fame is that his company Fraud Sciences Corp (in which he served as Chief Scientist and CEO) was acquired by PayPal/eBay for USD 169 million) in 2001 (so, strictly speaking, he is not an ex-Paypal guy, but rather somebody who headed a company that was acquired by Paypal). Other companies Wilf has seeded or co-founded include ClarityRay (acquired by Yahoo), Supersonic (merged with Iron Source), Crosswise (acquired by Oracle), Redhill Biopharma (NASDAQ: RDHL), Trivnet (acquired by Gemalto), Pointgrab, Deep Optics, CallApp, Moon Active and Creditstacks.

Is this Cryptocurrency?

No, this isn’t cryptocurrency by a long way and there is no blockchain involved in the payment system of 'Q'. The supply of ‘Q’ (the currency) will be overseen by Q’s monetary committee (whenever that comes into being).

Is this a Ponzi scheme?

Doesn’t look like it really. While it does have a referral system that looks like pyramid scheme by incentivizing its adopters, it does not charge any money to those who join, and primary uses the reference system as a means of growing its network.

The Buzz in Business Circles

Initiative Q has been featured in major publications such as Financial Times and while the articles show some level of natural skepticism, the general feedback about Initiative Q is quite positive. Here are a few of the published articles from reputed sources:

The Pros

  1. It is completely FREE to join the program and only an email signup is required (which must be verified by the referrer, who also must declare he/she personally knows you). Every new joiner receives over 10,000 Q on joining and can refer 5 more people and receive 8333 Qs for each referral (this will keep going down as more people hop onboard). For those who complete 5 verifications within the mentioned threshold, there is a limited window to verify 10 people more.

  2. It incentivizes you to bring more people onboard and the incentives are in the form of ‘Q’ could be worth a small nest egg in the future (even if it reaches a tenth of the company’s forecasted value of 1 Q = 1$)

  3. The company has strict privacy policies in place and the founder has vehemently stated in various platforms that their user data will not be shared with third-parties (risking their reputation and risking potential legal action) and even if the initiative doesn’t materialize the user data that is already collected will be safely discarded

The Cons:

  1. While you get over 10,000 Qs on joining (at the time of writing this article), the company has not even started and has a long way ahead. It may just die down completely and never materialize if there aren’t enough people onboard for the founders to act. So, don’t keep your hopes high.

  2. Even if things fall in place, it may take years before the network materializes and ‘Q’ is worth something substantial.

  3. Being a private payment system, it is up to the company to control the supply of ‘Q’ tokens and hence, it will be a completely centralized system that determines by itself how much money it needs to print (a stark contrast to most major cryptocurrencies that are decentralized and with limited supply of tokens controlled by a block chain protocol).

The company has currently set a target of creating 2 Trillion Q so the immense liquidity could definitely restrict the individual Q tokens running up to very high values against the USD (which is what happened with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies).

What is the Catch?

As an individual you really have nothing to lose over here.

When you join and get more people to join, and if the number of people reach the necessary threshold, and if Initiative Q actually results in the formation of a large company, and if things go well and Q gets adopted as a major payment network, then all those Qs you received at joining time will be worth perhaps a small fortune. Yes, there are quite a few 'ifs'.

But remember, while you might think that getting something worth a few thousand dollars tomorrow for free is too good to be true, the company itself will have spun 2 Trillion Q. So if you end up holding 10,000 Q and if 1Q = .1$ someday, that makes your holding worth $1000, then it also means the company would have (at least) $200 Billion worth of Q that it spun out of thin air !!

So in other words even though you think you got a really good deal, you eventually helped in the creation of the network that resulted in a multi-billion dollar company and made its founders somewhere on top of the Forbes Rich List - so now you know why the company is giving away Q tokens for early adoptors in tens of thousands!

Bottom Line - Should you join Initiative Q?

This is the big question here. So, having read so far what do you think?

If you are somebody who is into smart investing, it’s unlikely you’ll want to give this a skip because the risk to reward ratio for something of this scale is just too enticing. And in technologies like this the early bird gets the worm – in other words the earlier you are in, the more likely you will benefit from this.

On the flipside, Q is not yet a startup but just a grandiose idea of some enterprising innovative people.

It may take off if the founders see that the referral system gets a few hundred million users onboard that gives the Q team a strong springboard which would be worth investing time and money in.

It may not be worth going all out crazy about this right now, but joining will take you 2 mins and if you are convinced that this is something with potential you definitely do not want to miss this (especially if you missed the Bitcoin/Blockchain movement when it was in its infancy).

My take is that this is akin to getting a lottery ticket. In all likelihood, you may get nothing in return. But then, if somebody hands you a free lottery ticket, why would you want to reject it? If Initiative Q actually goes big in the years to come, you'd be holding a winning lottery you got for free.

And we can all use that little extra, can't we?

PS: If you want to join Initiative Q, you can click this link to join (Every referrer gets only a limited number of people he/she can refer so this link will expire after reaching its limit). Also if you are using my link to join, please notify me separately to verify you. Same goes for whosever referral you plan to use, do notify that person to ensure you are verified.


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