Have you been invited to Initiative Q? Here's what you need to know

Have you been invited to Initiative Q? Here's what you need to know

What’s going on?

Thousands of Facebook and other social media users are getting messages inviting them to join a new online network called Initiative Q. It’s an attempt to create a new currency… Q.

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Posts being shared online say signing up is free and they only ask for your name and email address. Once the system, by ‘ex-PayPal guys’, is ready they say people will get their Qs.

I’ve also read it’s been launched by ‘former PayPal employee Saar Wilf and economist Lawrence White’. Make your minds up.

Apparently if you refer friends you get even more Q, so no wonder I’ve seen it so many times!

‘If you missed getting bitcoin seven years ago, you wouldn’t want to miss this?,’ one I saw read.

So how exactly does Initiative Q work?

It’s not entirely clear, because it’s not ready. They say it uses lots of cutting edge technology and that they are offering free Q to early adopters to build up the network, which apparently now numbers two million users.

Not everyone believes the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Warnings have appeared in The Sun, the FT, and elsewhere.

So how much is Q worth?

At the moment, nothing. And there’s no guarantee it will be worth anything in the future. But the founders are targeting a value of $1 for a Q “if initiative Q becomes a leading payment network”. Sounds like a number plucked out of thin air to me.

How many can I get hold of?

The number you get for joining is decreasing all the time as the founders say they want to reward early adopters. Earlier this month new joiners were receiving an allocation of nearly 5,000 Q after they had gone through the whole registration process. The nearly 4,000 for each of your first five successful referrals – and more for people who they refer.

Sounds a bit like pyramid selling?

Funny you should say that. Jemima Kelly described it in the FT as ‘an elementary pyramid scheme with grandiose ideas’. Initiative Q says emphatically not as no money is changing hands – all you have to do is give your name and email address. They say it is a model of gaining subscribers that has been used by other fintech start-ups and that people joining now can hope to accumulate as many as 40,000 Q through the referral system (although this is falling all the time).

Woah, so $40,000 for my name and email address!?

Well, not exactly. Q is worth nothing yet, the currency is not yet operational, is unlikely to be before the end of 2021 – and may never get off the ground. If it does, Q’s value will depend on the success of the network – i.e. what, if anything, can be bought using it – and there is no indication that Q will be redeemable into ‘real money’. Also, we suspect 40,000 Q would take a huge amount of pestering a very large pool of social media ‘friends’ or followers.

Still think there doesn’t seem to be a downside?

Maybe there’s not. Initiative Q says it does not share data with third parties and claims your email address is safe with them. It could of course at a future date start asking for more details, or even money, in which case you must make a judgment on whether you want to hand anything over.

There is the possibility you could annoy your friends by trying to rope them into something that, on the face of it, does seem a bit pyramidy. And, it has been warned their signup list collates people who think ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes work, people who get their friends to sign up to them and a network graph of them.

That was David Gerard, author of ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain’.

What if I still want to sign up?

MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis has suggested creating a secondary email address to use for signing up. Personally, I’m sceptical and not going near it.

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