Bangalore: Hcitek Software Pvt Ltd, a Bangalore based start-up, has launched RupeeMail, a web-based email service that pays registered users to receive mail from companies pitching products and services.
Hcitek says that the incentive would help companies better target an audience that is more receptive to such messages.
Hcitek says it has licensed the technology from OIV Mail Inc, a US company that owns a patent for sending mass mails to registered users bypassing spam filters, and aims to tap the growing business for targeted marketing by customers.
The mail service will accumulate points or stamps on opening a link from an email that could then be exchanged for cash when users earn an equivalent of Rs200.
“RupeeMail is not an answer to spam. It is to reach the targeted advertiser,” says Anil Lakhwara, the 62-year-old chief executive officer of Hcitek.
He is also the co-founder of OIV.
Some analysts are sceptical of the pay-for-emails concept, saying serious buyers would not register their numbers or email addresses with service providers for a few rupees.
“This model is way behind the curve, and will find it very difficult to thrive in India,” says Madan Mohan Rao, editor of The Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, which tracks net trends in the region.
GingerSoft Pvt Ltd, a media company that runs mGinger, a portal, pays phone users to register for receiving advertising text messages. It claims it has added over a million registered users, largely college students, across India since a May launch.
“The 20 paise we pay for each SMS is just not the incentive, but (there are) the cool discounts the user gets from the ads,” says Chaitanya Nallan, chief executive of Gingersoft, which says it has some 150 customers, including Taj Gateway hotels and Tanishq, the jewellery brand of Titan Industries.
“The mobile is a personal instrument. So the chances of the message being read is higher than an email,” says Nallan. However, until now, the company has sent out only two cheques of Rs300 each to users who have received text messages from advertisers.
PhoneLinx Comunications, which owns Indyarocks.com, a social networking portal pays registered users to send messages (called scraps) via SMS to friends on the network. It also pays users to upload and view video footage on the Internet site.
The company embeds advertisements in the message or video footage.
“Users will ask us how do you differentiate with Orkut (the social networking portal of Google Inc). Offering money is one way,” says Kalyan Manyam, head of India operations for PhoneLinx, a San Jose, California company with operations in Hyderabad.