Initiative Q is an attempt to create a new payment network and digital currency. It was created by Israeli entrepreneur Saar Wilf, who previously founded Fraud Sciences, a payment security company acquired by PayPal. Initiative Q is backed by Cato Institute economist Lawrence H. White. Unlike Bitcoin the scheme would not take measures to evade state regulation.
Initiative Q’s goal is to replace payment cards and paper money that use old infrastructure with a new payment system leveraging current-day technologies. It is “creating a new currency (the Q) and distributing it to anyone who helps speed up adoption." The Q is not a cryptocurrency and is not decentralized, but will instead be overseen by an independent monetary committee, much like a central bank.
Registering for Initiative Q is marketed through multi-level marketing. The currency reserved for registrants will not be released until a critical mass of adopters identify themselves. In November 2018, Vox.com reported that more than two million people had signed-up in 180 countries. Later the same month, O Globo reported more than five million registrations, and The Times of India reported that countries with large numbers of registrations included India, Brazil, United States and United Kingdom.
In October 2018, Frank Chung of news.com.au wrote that the marketing style could be "perceived as a scam or pyramid scheme" and Daniel Huszák of portfolio.hu compared it to multi-level marketing without the fee. Owen Gough of Digital Spy wrote "Is Initiative Q real or fake? Short answer – we have absolutely no idea."
In contrast, Brendan Markey-Tower, economist at the University of Queensland, said on Stuff.co.nz in November 2018 that it was "not a scam" and that the scheme wouldn't "make you fabulously wealthy. It is, nonetheless, an interesting idea."
Huszák enumerated potential problems with the scheme such as no clear crypto-currency security measures, unclear transaction/exchange costs, and potential for market manipulation by the largest holders of currency.
- Nittle, Nadra (8 November 2018). "This new would-be currency isn't crypto — but is it for real?". Vox.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
- Chung, Frank (29 October 2018). "What is Initiative Q? Payment network insists it's not a 'pyramid scheme'". news.com.au. Archived from the original on 30 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Baumer, Lilach; Hirschauge, Orr (23 August 2018). "This serial founder wants to challenge Visa through a 'global currency' for the future". TechInAsia.com. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- "eBay Acquires Fraud Sciences For $169 Million". TechCrunch. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Q 幣」突然冒起，是否下一個 Bitcoin？ ["Q coin" suddenly rises, is it the next Bitcoin?]. cup.com.hk (in Chinese). CUP Media. 12 November 2018. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
- Gusmão, Gustavo (14 November 2018). "Saiba o que é Initiative Q, projeto que promete dinheiro virtual de graça" [Learn what is Initiative Q, a project that promises virtual money for free]. Exame (in Portuguese). Retrieved 10 January 2019.
- Mishra, Digbijay (29 November 2018). "20% of signups for new digi-currency from India". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- Markey-Towler, Brendan. "Initiative Q is not the new Bitcoin, but here's why the idea has value". Stuff.co.nz. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
- Huszák, Daniel (31 October 2018). "Megőrül az internet az új fizetéses MLM-rendszerért - Kamu lenne?" [Will the Internet be crazy about a new MLM pay-per-view system - but is it fake?]. Portfolio.hu (in Hungarian). Archived from the original on 31 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
- Kelly, Jemima (26 October 2018). "Initiative Q: an elementary pyramid scheme with grandiose ideas [Update]". FT Alphaville. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- Matsuura, Sérgio (14 November 2018). "Initiative Q reúne 5 milhões de cadastros com promessa de dinheiro grátis" [Initiative Q gathers 5 million sign ups with free money promise]. O Globo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- Gough, Owen (2 November 2018). "What is Initiative Q: Is it the new bitcoin, or just one big fake scam?". DigitalSpy.com. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.