December 13, 2012 9:00am
How much do you love that burger? You know the one you get every time you go there, to that place only you know. But that place, you know, is a little out of the way. Heck, it’s so far uptown that your friends won’t even come with you. But you know better; you’re so sure it’s worth making the trip that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is.
Enter Vouchr. The app, released today for iPhone from Toronto-based duo Robert Balahura and Michael Humphries, is a social gifting app with a twist. If you want your friends to try that burger badly enough, you’ll be willing to put down $5, $10 or even $20 to do so. Connecting with Facebook, the app allows you to publicly post these promises, as you’re, ahem, vouching for their efficacy.
Social gifting is well-worn territory on mobile; major players like Facebook are partnering with retailers to allow users to gift one another specific products, discounts, or limited-time specials. Vouchr goes about it a different way, speaking to the idea that money — cold, hard cash — is the true equalizer. Once a friend decides to claim that voucher (see that awesome wordplay, now?), he can make his way to the location to claim the coupon.
The app uses loose geolocation to ensure that users aren’t just claiming vouchers for nefarious purposes; you have to be within 500m of the chosen location for the transaction to complete. Vouchr uses PayPal to facilitate money transfers; if a user hasn’t signed up for the service, he or she will be prompted to do so. It’s a liability in the app’s otherwise-smooth workflow that Product Manager Douglas Soltys says the company is attempting to remedy as soon as possible.
As it stands, Vouchr’s success will depend on whether friends and family can be trusted to use the app to its fullest potential. While we’re not predicting rampant duplicitous coupon claims, it’s incumbent on the person putting forward the money to ensure that his or her favourite thing is experienced in the best possible way. Often when friends are at a bar and someone suggests an obscure beer, the advocate will purchase the next round. For destinations serving local or unique products, these return patrons become spokespeople for esoteric or up-and-coming products.
Vouchr’s brilliance, then, is not immediately apparent, but stands to benefit the business just as much as the individual claiming the token sum. Deep integration with PayPal ensures frictionless setup; utilizing Facebook’s social graph means that each voucher will be seen by hundreds of users in the News Feed. Businesses get to digest valuable data based on who is recommending what product and, down the road, could promote certain items by matching the value of a given voucher. The same goes for the advocates themselves, who stand to act as token “mayors” of a certain establishment if the business sees fit.
The app is starting small: the team is using Canada as a testing ground for how the app functions in peoples’ lives, and because it is built in HTML5 the developers can easily deploy fixes and expand upon features. Promises of a North American rollout and a change to native code are first on the list for 2013.
Feel like giving it a try? Download Vouchr for iPhone.