Are rewards point systems the next big tech trend? Facebook and Google think so

PHOTO: Flickr/Esther Vargas

A truth universally acknowledged is that Singaporeans love loyalty programmes and reward points systems, which seems to be the next big trend in big tech.

In the future, navigating through the digital world might involve considering which platforms will reap the most rewards for the user, not unlike choosing which credit cards to use at different businesses.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is funnelling resources into a cryptocurrency payment system, seeking US$1 billion worth of investments for its “FB Coin” project (internally referred to as “Project Libra”).

FB Coin will be built into Facebook’s infamously problematic advertising platform, possibly rewarding users for engaging with ads. This means less incentive for users to leave the beleaguered social media platform, which is struggling to regain public goodwill following numerous privacy and security scandals in the past few years. While it seems unlikely that Facebook will end up paying users for their eyes and ears, there’s a big grey area surrounding how the tech giant will leverage FB Coin to keep people interested and engaged with Facebook content. People will ultimately need to cash out FB Coin for real currency if they want to spend their money somewhere else.

Across the pond, Google recently introduced a rewards point system in its South Korean Google Play store. Google Play Points uses a tier system, beginning with a Bronze Tier. Depending on how well you do (i.e. how much you spend) during the calendar year, you might be bumped up to a higher tier — the ranking system goes all the way up to Platinum. The programme was first unveiled in Japan.



In the future, budget-conscious users might have to streamline their use of digital platforms if they want to take full advantage of these loyalty programmes, which will have a huge impact on the way we interact with online content. Of course, at the end of the day, big tech companies will be just fine without additional monetisation strategies. But for end users, things might get a lot more complicated in terms of how we get the most bang for our buck.