If you’ve got a Facebook account, your feed was probably full of one thing and one thing only last week; invitations to sign up to a new financial scheme called Initiative Q. The message contained the text “Initiative Q is building a new payment network and giving away significant sums of their future currency to early adopters” and plenty of other indications that while not a cryptocurrency as such, had enough “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck” markers for us to discuss it here.

What is it?

A look around their website will indicate that it’s primarily an effort to find the next phase of global payment portals, no doubt inspired by Bitcoin’s extraordinary price rises over the last year.  The similarities are marked, with Initiative Q following the digital finance option route and admitting that “some of the concepts behind cryptocurrency are valuable, and may be deployed” by them. However, they also claim that while a “brilliant solution”, cryptocurrency addresses “a problem that doesn’t exist”.

Is it a scam?

You can’t get away from the fact that it’s being marketed like a pyramid scheme, with all the warning bells that are attached. All the usual one-time offer and limited access buzzwords are being used to get as many people involved as possible, and those who have used their limited number of invitations report being ‘gifted’ many more to invite even more friends.

However, all that is being asked for is your email address. And if you’ve got the sense to have a burner free address for signing up to things that may or may not be dodgy online, then you’re golden. No money is being requested, so the worst you’re going to get is an inbox full of spam, and as yet…this writer hasn’t had a single email that isn’t Initiative Q related.

In short, although it looks too good to be true – and may well be – the worst that will happen is you’ll need a new free email address. No one that we know of, at this point, has been asked for any money.

So what’s the problem?

The internet is full of get rich quick schemes, and the automatic assumption is that money must be involved somewhere. The pyramid element would seem to be nothing more than a viral means of getting the word out there, and there’s no doubt that the team behind Initiative Q – who were also behind the fraud prevention system later acquired by PayPal – are completely sincere and genuine. Hence their willingness to “give it away for free” to those who are happy to join in with the early promotion.

Will I get rich?

Who knows? However, all it’s costing you is an email address. Eight years ago, two Papa Johns pizzas were purchased for 10,000 bitcoins. In a decade, you could be glad that for once you engaged with a viral Facebook post.