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After more than a year of building hype for its mobile wallet, Clinkle has finally gone public with its app and payments service – and it’s nothing like the wallet we were told to expect. What it delivered was a Visa prepaid debit card – that’s right, a piece of plastic – and an accompanying app that allows you to transfer gifts to your friends’ Clinkle cards through a system it calls “treats.”
From what we can glean from Clinkle’s updated website, treats work kind of like a loyalty program, except the rewards go to other people. After seven swipes of your card, you earn a treat, which you then gift to another Clinkle user in the form of a personalized message accompanied by a cutesy photo. That user can collect that treat on their next card swipe.
It appears that every treat doesn’t result in some kind of monetary reward or gift. Instead you “spin” the treat for a chance to get your purchase comped. If you don’t win, you still get to look at the adorable kitten photo your friend just sent you.
Clinkle is also introducing peer-to-peer payments so Clinkle members can transfer money directly into each other accounts as well as spending management tools.
The core premise is actually not a bad idea. Clinkle is building a rewards network into a social network, encouraging a close-knit community – in this case students at universities and colleges – to collectively participate in its payments service.
It, however, bears no resemblance to the payments network CEO and founder Lucas Duplan originally spelled out when he launched the company last year with a $25 million seed round, big name Silicon Valley hires and celebrity investors. That network was supposed to use the college campus as a seedbed for a smartphone payment system that required no special hardware in the device or at the point of sale.