[Singapore] What’s Happened to soCash? As At November 2019 – soCash Review

What’s Happened to soCash? As At November 2019 – soCash Review

Once upon a time, I wrote a pretty detailed post about soCash. I used the app daily. It started off “paying” me $10/day. Then $6. Then $5. Then $3. And it got lower and lower.

Good things don’t last forever, and I am aware of that, so I’m not complaining from the perspective of “omg why did they end it. They’re so stupid they’re losing customers!!”

However, I do wonder what their long-term vision is, and what their future plans are.

Over the last 2 months or so, quite a bit has happened within the app. Here’s what’s happened:

  1. Their most recent frequent/consistent cash rebate was in the form of $0.30 rebates, with a maximum of 5 withdrawals a day. So, $1.50/day. Pretty meagre. They now don’t even have any cash rebates whatsoever, but have instead changed to a points-based system, which still, in effect, awarded a cash rebate.
    • Last I used the app, it seemed to award the cashback in “stages”. The first set required 7 points for a $5 rebate, and 1 point was awarded per withdrawal of $30+. This was actually great, as each withdrawal effectively yielded a $0.71 rebate.
    • However, once you reached 7 points, you then needed 100 points for a $6 rebate. Each point, at this stage, yielded 5 points. In effect, this actually made the “reward” about the same as the $0.30 rebates immediately prior to this points-based system, as 5 points was the equivalent of $0.30.
    • The disadvantage was that you had to get 100 points to be able to “cash out”, and there was a newly implemented deadline. I guess the deadline is not too dissimilar to the expiry of FreeCash, which the points system replaced. I have not the app yet in November, but my app still shows an expiry of 30 October, so I don’t know what sort of reward I get now.
  2. They no longer accept PayLah, as of November 9th 2019
  3. They seem to have removed all 7-Elevens from the app.
  4. They added a bunch of deals for users to redeem, such as Shopee discounts and discounts off hotel bookings
  5. They’ve introduced a map view of the merchants, which while being a huge improvement was long overdue. And it’s also less useful now, given the change to the rebate structure

As I said, good things don’t last forever, so to point 1 – yea, ok. They were, and probably still are, in what I call “start up phase”, i.e. sacrificing profits for market share/awareness, so as you become more mature, your incentives for consumers become less generous – that’s understandable.

However, I have no idea what was behind #2. There must be a reason, but #2 feels like a bigger step back then #1 was. PayLah, was, by far the most convenient method to withdraw cash via soCash. I’ve used internet banking a few times, and I made sure it was only a few times, because the process was just so much less convenient. PayLah is effectively a tap of a couple of buttons with very little waiting time between each tap for you to get from the start of the transaction to the end. To only be left with Internet Banking options is a significant negative for the overall user experience.

#3 – 7-Eleven were the most recognisable partner soCash partnered with, but they’re now no longer visible in the app. As to why – I don’t know, but it’s a bit of an inconvenience, considering how widespread 7-Eleven are.

#4 – I mean having deals is always good, but it actually kinda feels like it makes the app look more cluttered. In addition, Shopee and hotel discount cards are generally not hard to find. They didn’t seem to offer any spectacular discounts that weren’t available elsewhere.

The Points System – A Little More Info

In addition to what I mentioned above, it is notable that soCash seem to be discouraging the “spamming” of transactions for greater rewards, which I will definitely admit I did and I’m sure I was not alone. The more I withdrew, the more rewards I would get. Tell me why I shouldn’t be doing that?

How are they discouraging this? I actually reached out to soCash support via WhatsApp to seek clarification over the new points system. The response I got was as follows:

We have revamped the rewards program based on feedback from our users, and you will get exclusive deals, offers and cashbacks just to stay away from ATMs. Our new rewards system allows you to earn points as you withdraw and unlock rewards upon achieving the milestone.

Our milestone system is designed to encourage usage and rewarding at the same time in a non competitive way. Which means, we do not reward users based on the most transaction nor the highest amount withdrawn. It is programmed to allocate points randomly in order to benefit maximum number of users.

-soCash Support via WhatsApp

This was in mid-September, when the rewards system had just launched. The system was a little different to what I explained above. At the time, you were not rewarded for every withdrawal/transaction, whereas now, you seem to be – so they seem to have gone back on their “points allocated randomly” system.

What really baffled me about this was the comment that this was “based on feedback from our users”. Are you telling me people wrote to soCash to specifically ask for a revamp of the rebates, such that they became less transparent, less rewarding and less certain?

As I said, I totally understand businesses need to make money, and if you’re throwing money to customers (as soCash had been doing, mind you, for quite a while), you’re literally throwing away money that could contribute to your revenue, but there comes a point in time when saying things for the sake of saying things feels extremely disingenuous and frankly, somewhat insulting. Anyway, I reacted exactly as I have in this paragraph to them, and did not get a reply, but that’s my 2 cents.

Where does that leave soCash now?

I don’t know. With the app as it is, there is honestly not much incentive to use it. If you need cash, it has to be said that ATMs are still more convenient especially and even more so now with the removal of PayLah.

Their marketing harps on about “skipping the ATM queue, get soCash!”, but I’d rather wait behind a couple of people in an ATM queue than have to walk 800m to the closest soCash merchant – which mind you, can definitely be the case!

If soCash had more merchants/shops on their platform such that they’re as widespread as ATMs are, then we’ll talk. In the meantime, soCash definitely feels like it’s taken quite a few of steps back from where they were a few months ago. Don’t forget, most shops have closing times – ATMs don’t.

There’s also the issue of awareness, training and UI. I encountered quite a few situations where the shopkeeper/staff had no idea either about the existence of soCash at their shop, despite being listed on the soCash app, or they just did not know how to use it. You’re not going to experience this problem with ATMs because it’s all self-service!

Will I keep using the app? Only if I’ve forgotten my ATM card and need to withdraw cash… then I’ll begrudgingly use internet banking and soCash to get money from a random shop. Mind you – this has happened to me once since they changed to the points system, but that was literally because I couldn’t withdraw from a ATM. Not because I wanted to skip the queues…

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