About Initiative Q!
Initiative Q is the brainchild of Saar Wilf, a serial entrepreneur who started his first payments start-up in 1997, and later founded Fraud Sciences, which redefined the payment security space and was acquired by PayPal in 2008.
Wilf has compiled a team of experts from a variety of disciplines, including mathematics, economics, and other social sciences. The economic and monetary models were developed with Economist Lawrence White, a professor of monetary theory and policy at George Mason University. White has published numerous articles and books on monetary theory and banking, including The Theory of Monetary Institutions, Free Banking in Britain, and The Clash of Economic Ideas.
The idea behind Initiative Q is to first create a critical mass of users, which can then be harnessed to create the world’s best payment network. Therefore, our primary focus is to get millions of Q members registered, after which we will continue recruiting the world’s top professionals in payment systems, macroeconomics, and Internet technologies.
What is Initiative Q?
Initiative Q is building the payment system of the future. The Q payment network will integrate the best technological improvements that have been made in the payment industry over the last few decades to create a flexible, easy-to-use and inexpensive payment network.
These technologies have been available for years, but have not been adopted due to a classic chicken and egg barrier: No buyer wants to join a new network with no sellers, and no seller will offer a payment option that no buyer uses.
Initiative Q solves the adoption problem by associating the payment network with a new global currency, and distributing this currency to early adopters for free.
Features Initiative Q
Ease of use!
The cards and cash in our wallets are antiquated ways to identify us and keep a count of our funds. These functions can be easily integrated into a smartphone. You can just walk into a store without your wallet, and your payment account is quickly identified using digital methods such as a QR code or an audible code. An RFID sticker on the phone can be used as backup when the battery is dead.
Checking out can be even further simplified. With the Q app, you can enter a store, scan the barcode of the items you want with the phone camera, and simply walk out. At restaurants you can just leave when you’re done, as your phone settles the bill directly with the restaurant’s server. No flagging down the waiter, no delays.
There’s also no need to fill out forms each time you visit a new online store. Once you authorize your device, you are automatically identified, and you can confirm payment with 1-click.
Companies like Apple, Google and Amazon have developed such features, but they are still used in a small fraction of transactions. Initiative Q will make them standard.
Sellers spend 8% of their revenue on fraud-related costs.1 Every instance of fraud takes money from the system, and forces sellers to take costly precautions—costs eventually borne by the buyers through higher prices. However, there is a wealth of information and technology that can dramatically reduce fraud once integrated into the payment network.
We already have access to some amazing technology. Our smartphones include fingerprint sensors, GPS, a camera and microphone that can recognize our face and voice, as well as the most advanced encryption capabilities. These can be used to implement highly secure multi-factor authentication methods, which would make it far more difficult to steal our identity.
Compared to the very crude Address Verification Service (AVS) used by credit cards, which only compares the digits of the billing address, the Q payment network will be able to verify more information at higher accuracy, and incorporate more modern information sources, such as social media accounts.
Initiative Q can also employ the latest algorithms to analyze individuals’ digital behavior — technology currently offered by companies such as Forter and Riskified, but only used in only a small fraction of transactions.
The use of a centralized payment page for all Q users will help establish patterns of appropriate and inappropriate behavior, leading to a far more reliable fraud assessment than any individual seller could accumulate alone.
The above technologies are already available, and only need to be integrated by Initiative Q, but there is one capability that is unique to the Q payment network. Since every new member must be verified by an existing member, who risks losing their reward in case of fraud, the Q payment network will build a network of trust relationships that can be used to verify transactions. For example, the system can require that for large or suspicious purchases, a trusted friend must contact you directly and verify that you authorize the transaction.
Promoting proper business practices!
Too much of the contemporary retail economy is based on misleading practices: cases where the seller knows that the value to the buyer is lower than it seems, or that final costs are higher than presented. These practices include free trials that turn into paid commitments without warning, unexpected price changes, and promoting products with false promises or deceitful marketing.
This ultimately hurts everyone involved. It leads to skepticism by potential customers, who must constantly be vigilant, and hurts legitimate businesses, who must compete against deals that are too good to be true, and are eventually forced out of the market—further harming consumers.
Q will go further than standard customer protection laws, creating a network where buyers don’t need to constantly worry about whether they are being scammed, and sellers can focus on quality rather than assuaging such concerns.
How do we do that? By making dishonest practices a legitimate reason for transaction reversal, thus motivating sellers to share all information that may reasonably affect purchase decisions, even if the law doesn’t require it. Initiative Q will also require customer confirmation for any changes in payment arrangements, such as raising fees.
Additionally, buyers will see customer reviews on each seller’s payment page, to ensure better service and to incentivize respect from both sellers and buyers. Initiative Q has the unique ability to ensure that reviews are only provided by verified buyers who made an actual purchase from that seller, evading the problem of fake reviews praising one business or discrediting the competition.
Through these measures, the Q payment network will become an environment where buyers no longer need to worry about scams, and sellers can focus on creating value to buyers.
Reversibility and dispute arbitration!
No matter how good a system is, if humans are involved, there will be mistakes and misunderstandings. That’s why reversibility (one of the limitations of Bitcoin) is so important. Allowing transactions to be reversed benefits both buyers and sellers in the long-term, as customers are more willing to engage in the market when they have a measure of protection. Moreover, this is already a feature of credit cards, and any system that seeks to overtake them will have to provide similar assurances.
The Q payment network can also include an automated dispute resolution process, with an easy to use interface that allows users to submit claims and upload evidence to support those claims.
Disputes that cannot be resolved automatically can be assigned to a trained representative, who investigates the claims to determine whether there has been a violation of the Q payment network regulations. If the agent finds that the seller was at fault, then the transaction can be reversed, while in cases where both sides acted appropriately (e.g. an unauthorized charge) the buyer can be reimbursed by Initiative Q.2 Such reimbursement can be paid from a global insurance pool financed from transaction fees.
Parental / departmental controls!
Sub-accounts can be easily set up to allocate funds, authorize expenses, and provide easy access to the full history of transactions. This is perfect for children or expense accounts that need to be supervised. A similar feature can facilitate bill-sharing for restaurants, utilities, and other shared expenses.
Buyers can have instant access to their full transaction history, including precise times and locations for when and where transactions were authorized, what verification method was used, a copy of the invoice, details and images of the products, delivery tracking data, an instant messaging option to communicate with the seller, and a link to the Initiative Q dispute resolution forum. This would be a major improvement over the vague references and line-items on today’s credit card statements.
Combining the most advanced technology and analytical methods with information provided by users, can lead to a far more accurate and equitable assignment of credit. More data and more nuanced application of that data lead to better informed decisions. For example, new users can be evaluated on the basis of the reputations of those who have verified them or are connected to them. This would provide significant improvements over the current credit scoring system, which relies only on payment history, retains inaccuracies for long periods of time, and promotes debt.
Worldwide, 38% of the adult population doesn’t have a bank account. In some areas it’s far higher; in Colombia and Peru it’s over 60% and in the Middle East it’s over 80%. Initiative Q will address this issue, allowing people all over the world to make deposits, purchases, sales, money transfers, and investments without ever needing access to a bank. This can be especially beneficial in conflict and post-conflict regions.
Cash remains the most common retail payment instrument, used in 32% of all transactions in the US and 79% in the EU. In a survey of payment methods in Asia, 57% said they use cash most often. But this reliance on paper has a cost: printing, storing, transporting, and sorting paper takes time and money. It is estimated that the use of cash costs around $100 billion per year in the US alone. Checks are not much better, costing US companies tens of billions of dollars a year to process. Clearly, moving to a digital system can save enormous costs.3 While credit and debit cards circumvent these problems, they introduce other high costs, resulting from their use of outdated technology.
Because the Q payment network will use a unified system and currency, and operate digitally using the most advanced technology, transaction fees can be much lower. Furthermore, by reducing fraud and scam attempts, Initiative Q can also greatly reduce the hidden fees that manifest in higher product prices.
AML – Anti-Money Laundering!
One of the main causes for complexity in payments is the need to comply with regulation for prevention of money laundering. This is why international wires can take days and cost $20-100 each.
The Q currency resides solely on the Q network, and therefore each Q can be tracked to its source, eliminating the need for AML procedures, and paving the way for instantaneous cross-border money transfers.
Today, a large portion of purchases occur as a result of the seller’s marketing efforts, even though nearly all of those efforts are unsuccessful. This means consumers are constantly bombarded with useless messages, draining their time and attention, and increasing product prices.
Through advanced analysis of buyer profiles and transaction history, Initiative Q can transform market dynamics: instead of sellers aggressively convincing consumers they need their products, the focus will shift to identifying real customer needs, and finding the products that best fulfill those needs.
The complexities and costs of current payment systems make small immediate payments for content impossible, requiring content creators to rely on advertising revenue. A universal, low-cost, digital payment system can finally enable users to consume content ad-free, by charging a negligible amount, similar to what an ad would generate (typically a fraction of a cent per page or video).
Initiative Q aims to become the world’s primary payment network. That requires establishing locations all over the world, complying with local regulations, and providing quality customer service.
To reach this goal quickly, Initiative Q will focus only on technology, standards and regulation, while delegating the financial operation to hundreds of local agents. These local agents will be responsible for customer service, safeguarding members’ funds, connecting local stores, legal compliance, and settling with other agents.
A typical transaction on the Q payment network is processed as follows: