I've been seeing a lot of my social media connections lately sharing referral links to this up-and-coming payment system called "Initiative Q". The spiel is filled with a lot of eye-catching terms like "made by ex-PayPal guys" or "it's like getting bitcoin seven years ago." Being a typical skeptic, I know that anything that is being hyped, overly reliant on marketing, and backed by barely any technical or empirical facts, is too good to be true.
So I did my due diligence in researching about Initial Q. Glossing over their website (bypassing any affiliate links I came across), they claim their system will be able to replace "outdated" credit cards and banks with a new global virtual currency, "the Q". The timeline of development is vague, as well as the other supposedly supporting pages (the economic model and the Q payment network articles on their website). Granted, the project seems to be in its infancy, and all the details should be ironed out in time. But why announce Initiative Q to the public haphazardly? Something as grandiose as an attempt to overthrow payment systems as we know today should at least have fleshed out concepts from the get-go, right? Personally, I see their website as nothing more than a buzzword-filled attempt to milk SEO for their little landing page.
Performing a quick Google search on Initiative Q articles, several points have been raised (and which I agree with) why Initiative Q is too good to be true:
To join, you have to be referred by an existing member, and then, once you’re registered by submitting your name and email address, you can invite five other people for even more of the currency. [...] the Q currency is not a form of cryptocurrency although it has been dubbed as the new bitcoin with developers promising a “get-richer-but-slowly” result.
The comparisons of Initiative Q to a pyramid scheme are spot-on, because that is exactly the way Initiative Q looks. They promise some kind of irresistibly lucrative payout, in exchange for what seems to be nominal consideration, with the first step being to recruit people who you know.
It's basically running under very carefully crafted words to not look like an MLM, but it's easy to see between the lines (if you care to read and not dismiss all the Initiative Q site's pages with tl;dr). Remember, read everything when a transaction involves finance, money and sharing your personal details. If you choose to stay ignorant and not read everything (including the fine print), then I say don't bother with Initiative Q for now.
Also, the wording and marketing screams hype and instilling "join now or regret later" feelings to potential customers. They're trying to woo you with jargon and buzzwords for you to pull the trigger on giving out your credentials, and so you don't spend time scrutinizing and exercising due diligence. And the faster you sign up, the quicker they get (and store) your name and e-mail address, two pieces of valuable, personally-identifiable information. Is it really worth giving that sensitive information out for virtual currency that (theoretically) doesn't exist yet?
Q is trying to gather a large user base of people who want it to succeed and then building the payment network itself — a network that is not limited by backward-compatibility requirements. Thus, the system itself has not been developed yet, nor is there a test environment.
This quote from the Initiative Q team itself shows the current state of the project: no solid product yet, but they're currently trying to build up the demand, the user base. Granted, their way of marketing has proven very viral (i.e. effective), but without anything concrete to back up their claims to be the next payment system, the hype will only take them so far.
Okay, so maybe I am just one of the many naysayers of a product that has all the untapped potential in the tech world. Maybe these ramblings are just me projecting my FOMO and not joining in the hype. Maybe Initiative Q will be the next big thing after all. Maybe it will take off like bitcoin did in the past and be the next disruptor. No one can say for sure. But until Initiative Q has proven something with tangibility, I will remain a skeptic for now, and ignore any affiliate links I see on my social media feeds.