Introduction

A few weeks ago, I met up with my friend’s partner and she told me she was a foodie - someone who posts about food from businesses on their social media platforms. This was on the side of her full time job. I was curious about her foodie experiences so the question came up on how much she earned as a foodie, or what they also called influencers. In the past few months, she has earned nothing. This is the reason why it isn’t her full time profession to be a foodie and influencer. She said there are only two foodies in our city that make enough money to make it their full time profession and everyone else does not. I was so curious that through her, I reached out to multiple influencers and businesses to ask more questions and this is when I found out what the problems were in the influencer space.

Problem Statement

After talking to her and surveying multiple people / businesses, I realized that there were 4 problems in the influencer space.

  • A majority of influencers do not make sustainable income

The standard payment to an influencer to promote a brand or business is a lump sum amount that depends on the number of followers an influencer has or the engagement rate of the influencer, which measures how well do followers interact with an influencer's content.[1] This means only influencers with a huge amount of followers can make sustainable income. Everyone else does not. The issue with this form of measurement is…

  • The number of followers or the engagement rate do not measure sales or profits an influencer makes for a business

The measurement of followers or the number of people who interact with an influencer’s content does not mean a business will profit from the help of an influencer. A less well known but local influencer could be generating more sales to a business versus a more popular influencer who lives abroad.

Quoting one of the local businesses I’ve interviewed -

“It is a gamble to hire influencers, since there is no way to know if I am actually making sales through their help. It is all an assumption.”

I definitely know businesses don’t like working around gambles and assumptions. However, the number of followers and the engagement rate are the only ways of measuring how much to pay an influencer because...

  • In-store purchases at businesses are not tracked to who referred or promoted the sale.

For online stores and bigger brands with a web presence, tracking of an influencer’s success with regards to a sale for a business can easily be done by creating affiliate programs, which pays a commission to influencer’s who helped with a sale.[2]

However, for brick and mortar, physical, local and small businesses / restaurants, there is no way to track and measure in-store purchases and profits that came from an influencer. Since purchases are not paired to influencer promotions, there is no way to measure the success of hiring influencers. Given this lack of a direct measurement, businesses cannot justify paying influencers in different ways, such as commissions for each sale. The only reasonable form of payment is the initial lump sum amount as previously mentioned. Even if there was a way to measure this...

  • Businesses do not have the domain knowledge to manage and hire influencers

Even if the in-store purchases were tracked, businesses do not have the knowledge to make better decisions on who to approach to promote their brand or business. For more established businesses, they will usually hire out to a marketing agency to handle influencer marketing. For small businesses, they simply do not have the budget to do this.

Validation

After asking around and confirming that there are these problems, I wanted to validate possible solutions and business models. I built very unpretty wireframes and prototypes and tested them out with a few very helpful people.

In doing so, I came up with a solution.

Solution

FOMO is an integrated e-wallet social media platform on mobile that lets people pay for goods in-store and allows them to post about purchases they have made for anyone to see. When someone views posts of a purchase and makes an in-store purchase because of those posts, the authors of the posts make a commission off the sale. If multiple authors influenced a specific purchase, the commission is split between the authors. The FOMO suite also includes a Shopify application where businesses on FOMO will be able to accept FOMO payments and see a list of all influencers on the FOMO platform. Businesses are able to see on FOMO a metric of how much sales influencers have actually influenced with regards to their posts. This metric is called Purchases to Posts Ratio (patent pending).

By integrating an e-wallet payment system with social media, FOMO can track in-store purchases and pair them up with anyone’s posts. In doing so, FOMO can now provide commission based income to influencers no matter how small their following is.

Given this tracking, we now have a better metric to measure the success of any influencer and creator that is actually related to a business’s sales and profits. This metric, the Purchases to Posts Ratio, is simply the average number of purchases a user has influenced for a specific business given the number of posts a user has made about a specific business.

Physical businesses and restaurants can easily understand the exact value influencers bring to the business by actually knowing how much profits they have earned from influencers without making assumptions through this metric. Businesses on FOMO can reach out to influencers and can make better decisions on how to promote their business and brand through influencers with this metric.

Secondary Solutions

The following section outlines solutions that FOMO has implemented that are not related to the main problems outlined above.

Looking into some e-wallet checkout solutions today, none show the items or details of a specific order when making a payment. People tend to want to know more information to confirm how much they are paying or what items they are buying. In addition, it is cumbersome for customers to type the amount to pay and human errors start becoming a factor. FOMO solves this by providing a checkout experience where it is simple yet detailed if the user wanted more information about a purchase. FOMO users could see the items / details if they wanted to, and if not, the button to confirm the payment is at the bottom - the easiest and quickest spot to click, without needing to type out any information.

For businesses on the receiving end, a current issue with most e-wallet checkout solutions today is that they do not get to see the current state of a purchase being processed. Businesses and employees wants a responsive checkout experience clearly outlying when a payment is being completed to provide a better experience for both themselves and for customers. FOMO solves this by creating a more feedback driven checkout experience for businesses on the Shopify POS, which shows the different states of when a customer is making a payment and showing an error when the customer cancels the payment. This makes it more user-friendly and prevents confusion.

Rapyd Integration

The following Rapyd products were used to create FOMO:

  • Rapyd Collect
  • Rapyd Wallet
  • Rapyd Issuing

Rapyd provides the entire payments infrastructure to actually track purchases to social media posts and to pay out commissions.

To facilitate the paying of commissions to influencers, Rapyd Collect is used to create payments which are split by percentages to the business and to influencers by their associated e-wallets. Therefore, upon each purchase, the commission is paid out to each influencer automatically, rather than having the business itself having to facilitate payouts to all the influencers. This makes it more simple for businesses not having to manage payouts. For demo purposes, the payments to influencers are settled immediately, but for real-life situations that can occur, such as refunds or disputes, we can utilize escrows provided by Rapyd to delay the payment to influencers if needed. This is discussed further in the Design Decisions section below.

Rapyd Collect is also heavily utilized to assist in the integrating specific payment cards to the FOMO Wallet. FOMO queries the available payment method types by country provided by Rapyd Collect to help assist the end user in adding a payment card they have onto FOMO. FOMO uses the provided images for each payment type from Rapyd Collect to visually let the user pick out the type of payment card they have. If an image is not provided, a credit card icon will be used.

In terms of Rapyd Wallet and Rapyd Issuing, FOMO uses the issued credit card from Rapyd Issuing to facilitate payments on FOMO specifically for the FOMO Wallet. FOMO does this so that it can properly track what purchases uses the FOMO Wallet as a payment method. This is discussed further in the Challenges? section below.

To support filtering of purchases, commissions and top ups for a user, FOMO heavily utilizes the metadata and merchant_reference_id to store information about any payments. By using this in conjunction with filtering by e-wallet and customers, FOMO can provide detailed and scoped information to both influencers and businesses. This also ensures that all payment information is stored on Rapyd rather than FOMO's own services which will be good for compliance concerns of where data should be stored.

At first, I was thinking of just local businesses in my area, but through Rapyd, this expands to being able to offer commission based income at a global scale. Imagine a food influencer from Canada who travels to Singapore and posts about a Laksa shop in Clarke Quay from her favourite auntie, and is able to gain a commission off of sales from tourists in-person from around the globe. This is only possible through Rapyd and FOMO.

How we built it?

  • A Flutter + Dart API client for Rapyd that I made to interact with the Rapyd platform
  • FOMO Mobile application is made with Flutter
  • FOMO Shopify embedded application and POS application was made using React + Next.js
  • Firebase to handle all storage and data
  • PubNub to serve as a real-time message bus for the FOMO mobile app and FOMO POS Shopify app - specifically handling the real-time checkout process between a customer and business

Design Decisions

The paying of commissions to influencers, as mentioned previously in Rapyd Integration, is done on every purchase made on FOMO. The decision to do this rather than having the business manage payouts to influencers was to simplify the user experience for businesses. Businesses do not have to manage payouts to influencers since it is handled automatically on each purchase and this solves the issue of business's wallets not having sufficient funds to payout influencers.

The reason why I built on Shopify and Shopify POS rather than creating my own web dashboard was I wanted the businesses to feel comfortable using FOMO. If I made my own interface and app for businesses, it will be one more application a business would have to learn. The Shopify application also uses Polaris - which is the design specification provided by Shopify to ensure that businesses will be familiar with the interface.[3]

To demonstrate the ability to track post interactions with purchases, I decided to keep FOMO simple, where the only interaction would just be viewing the post. This interaction is triggered when the post is in view on the mobile application. In addition, I decided to split the commission between a max of the most recent 10 influencers if a user has viewed 10 posts of a specific business, just to showcase the fact that commission could be split depending on whose posts a user has seen.

Challenges?

My initial idea was also to use the issued card from Rapyd Issuing to perform payments, but that I realized was not possible. This was necessary as I wanted a full history of all purchases with their associated payment method, which was either the FOMO Wallet or an added payment method card. As a wallet transfer created a transaction on Rapyd Wallet, and a payment with a card was on Rapyd Collect, it would mean I would have to pull from both to generate purchase histories. Instead, I figured out that you can actually add the issued card to the payment methods of a customer, and it would work as a payment method for payments rather than needing to use the test credit card number (4111 1111 1111 1111). In doing so, I was able to properly create wallet transfers and payments that would be properly scoped to their individual payment methods all from Rapyd Collect.

The splitting of the commission between a max of 10 influencers seemed difficult at first, but because Rapyd Collect allows you to split your payment into percentages to specific wallets, it became so much more easier!

Code + Demo?

The code (https://github.com/Formula-0001-Rapyd-Fintech-Grand-Prix/fomo) is in the temporary Rapyd Github account for privacy. If there is any questions about this, feel free to contact me.

As this is a mobile application and Shopify embedded application, I can provide an APK or credentials if needed if you would like to test the application. Let me know!

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