Data collection, advertisements, and ?sold out? offers are all major roadblocks
Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
If the sheer amount of data OnMyWay collects ? with only a promise from the company that it won?t do anything nefarious with it ? doesn?t give you pause, the economics of the payout arrangement might.
In the app, users see a dollar value of the amount of ?money? they?ve earned. But this label is slightly misleading. What you?re really earning is a proprietary currency called OnMyWay Cash. As Palmer explains to OneZero, ?The OnMyWay Cash is more of a point system? we can exchange your miles and your referral number and your OnMyWay Cash for real money.?
To do this, users need to exchange their OnMyWay Cash for ?deals,? or gift cards: $10 of the virtual currency earns a $10 Mastercard gift card, and $50 earns a $50 Walmart gift card. These ?deals? are also how users transfer money they?ve earned to their bank, Venmo, or PayPal accounts. In other words, if users don?t qualify for an available deal, the OnMyWay Cash is stuck in the app.
There?s just one problem: Most of the deals are ?sold out.? And they can be for days or weeks at a time.
As of Thursday, there were seven deals available to users. Four of them, ranging from $10 to $100, were listed as ?sold out,? meaning even if users qualified for them, they couldn?t cash out. An available $250 deal requires drivers to not only earn $250 worth of OnMyWay Cash?which would take around 5,000 miles of driving?but also 250 referrals. A $500 reward only asks for 50 referrals, but it requires drivers to earn $5,000 in OnMyWay Cash ? a feat that would require driving for over 100,000 miles.
The final reward is the only one currently available that doesn?t require referrals. For a $1,000 reward, drivers have to earn $10,000 of OnMyWay Cash. At five cents per mile, this would take over 200,000 miles of nondistracted driving. For reference, Consumer Reports says that the average life expectancy of a new car is around 150,000 miles. Since the average American drives a little under 30 miles per day, earning $10,000 of OnMyWay Cash would take over 18 years.
?We?ve heard, ?This a pyramid scheme, this is a scam,?? says Palmer. ?We?re trying to clarify that this is not a pyramid scheme. This is not a scam.? Unlike traditional pyramid schemes, users do not pay into the system to support those who invited them, and there?s no stacking effect. That means users are rewarded for the recruits they invite, but not for the recruits those users invite. The benefit stops at one level of rewards.
Palmer says the company will reinstate lower-tier deals in the coming weeks. ?As we grow, they will be added more and more quickly,? says Palmer. ?So the next ones will come about two weeks after these current ones became sold out.? But there?s no guarantee how long those deals will remain available when they go live. As for the current batch, ?they became sold out within hours.?
Prior to selling out, the app says that its various lower-tier deals went out to around 375 people.
OnMyWay?s goal of reducing distracted driving is a noble one, and if it can generate enough advertiser interest to pay out the rewards it?s promised, it could be a win-win for everyone. But that?s a big ?if.?
In the meantime, it?s worth remembering that you can (and should) put down the phone and drive safely, even if you don?t get paid for it.
Update: An earlier version of this article included a userbase number for OnMyWay that actually corresponds to total app downloads.