In theory Silicon Valley loves failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, though in reality the world is sometimes far less forgiving when companies are going through that learning and growing phase. Such is the plight of the mobile app/wallet once known as Clinkle, now rebranded as Treats.
The new service encourages users to buy things with a Treats debit card to earn “Treats” — essentially lottery tickets you send to friends that pay for the entirety of their next purchase if they “win.”
As in the original, and 2.0 version of Clinkle, P2P payments are there, but not the centerpiece, which is clearly built around rewards.
In this capacity, Clinkle is acting as an issuing bank and making money off of the fees it charges to the acquiring bank whenever the card is used, meaning Clinkle (the company’s name didn’t change) offers its service free to consumers.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Clinkle so far; in September the startup launched accidentally by putting up its website complete with details on how Clinkle worked. This was followed 17 months of mockery for raising $30 million, losing its entire executive board and having its idea roundly called dumb.
By gamifying transactions, Treats hopes to get people buying more often, which is something merchants will certainly like if Treats can recruit a large enough user base. However, gamification kills more companies than it successfully launches, especially those considered rewards programs. Still, some like LevelUp are alive, well and expanding.
What may particularly help Treats is the gambling angle, which stimulates the part of the brain that likes variable rewards. People like gifts, but as it turns out, they like the chance to win a better gift even more (though they risk losing out and getting less in total). Will it be enough to launch Clinkle? Their founders are betting it will be.