ONE person’s trash is another’s treasure.
There has been a lot of commotion over a new app released in Japan called ONE. It is a unique app that promises to give you 10 yen (US$0.09) in exchange for submitting a photo of any receipt you take. Sounding too good to be true, our own Mr. Sato took it for a test drive to see if it really worked.
Although only the first day of its release, Mr. Sato was surprised to find that ONE had already reached its namesake position on the iTunes ranking in the free-app finance section.
He quickly got his ONE downloaded and registered by entering a code received by SMS and granting the app access to his camera. Within seconds he was ready to starting raking in money by taking pictures of his receipts.
One thing Mr. Sato noticed right away is that it has trouble when the receipt is crumpled, so you should take care of those little papers for the sake of ease.
After the picture was taken, he just had to press the paper-airplane-stylized send button.
Once accepted he got a message that it was worth 10 yen and a button asking him to confirm the transaction.
And just like that, 10 yen was placed into his virtual wallet.
Goosebumps broke out on Mr. Sato at this discovery, he had finally found his fast lane to easy street! He quickly scavenged the office for as many discarded receipts as he could find.
However, once he snapped ten slips, the app locked him out.
It turned out that there was a ten-receipt limit per day, allowing him to earn only 100 yen a day. Still, that worked out to about 3,000 yen a month, for pretty much doing nothing out of the ordinary. While it wasn’t the answer to his fiscal prayers, it was nothing to sneeze at either.
There’s also the issue of the virtual wallet. Getting the money sent to you in real funds does take a leap of faith between you and ONE. In order to authorize a bank account transfer, you must first submit a photo of photo ID to the app, such as your driver’s license or passport.
It took about half a day for ONE to verify Mr. Sato’s identity. After that he could instruct the app to transfer his virtual wallet’s contents to a real account at any of Japan’s major banks. However, there is a 200 yen ($1.80) transfer fee, so he’d probably want to save up some more before actually moving the money.
The use of personal information is said to help the app ban those who attempt to scam it by using the same receipt twice or receipts that other people had already scanned.
There’s still the question of how this app makes money following what appears to be an underpants-gnome business model. Presumably it tracks peoples shopping habits in near real time, but is that data valuable enough to compensate everyone who uses it 10 yen per transaction?
Oftentimes, receipts also have point offers or other coupons that people overlook. Maybe ONE harvests those and leverages them somehow to turn a profit?
A very troubling thought is that the most valuable thing a single individual hands over to ONE is their ID and bank account info.
Whatever they did with his personal information and receipts, Mr. Sato wasn’t overly concerned. The next day, as he bought his morning pack of cigarettes, he felt relieved that at least his receipt could be used to offset the rising costs of tobacco in Japan.
As he settled in at the office he pulled out his trusty ONE app to take a photo of his convenience store receipt.
▼ “Receipt purchases have currently stopped.”
“Damnit!” thought Mr. Sato as he searched the internet for answers. A tweet from the CEO of ONE, 17-year-old Soto Yamauchi, explained:
“Currently, about 16 hours since service started, the situation is as follows:
We purchased 245,400 receipts from about 70,000 users in 85,000 downloads.
For the time being, we are temporarily stopping service.”
It looked as if Mr. Sato wasn’t the only one enjoying ONE on its release day. The popularity of the app surpassed the expectations of even its creator, who is probably now scrambling to find more backers to cover this surge in users.
And scramble he must, as angry locked-out users have taken to the iTunes store with negative reviews and ratings, causing ONE’s rep to plummit and its CEO to issue an emergency tweet:
▼ “Two weeks… Please just wait two weeks… Service will definitely return… Please just wait to begin using the app!”
▼ ONE’s rating as of 12 July (left) and ONE’s rating as of 14 July (right)
Mr. Sato imagined there’d be some rough patches as this unusual business unfolded. He says he’ll patiently wait for service to resume and look forward to whatever ONE might do next.
Source: ONE Financial Press Release, ONE on iTunes, Twitter/@5otoyam