OnMyWay Promises ‘Cash’ for Driving Safe — But There’s a Catch
Data collection, advertisements, and ‘sold out’ offers are all major roadblocks
You should really put your phone down while you’re driving. You know that, and yet you still can’t resist taking a peek at the red light. But what if someone was paying you — really paying you — to keep your phone locked while you’re on the road? That’s OnMyWay’s pitch. Download the app, keep your eyes on the road, and earn money.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. OnMyWay just needs to solve its cash flow problems first.
The app is currently having a moment: 750,000 people have downloaded OnMyWay since it launched in July, and it’s spent several days as the number one iOS app in the Lifestyle category. It detects when you’re driving by using your location data, then pays you a little cash for every mile you drive without unlocking your phone. Specifically, the app pays five cents per mile, plus an extra two cents for miles driven by everyone you refer to the service.
It’s pennies, but it can be enough to earn a couple bucks on your commute each day. In exchange, OnMyWay will show you “deals” — usually discounts on things like sunglasses, protein bars, or various products on Amazon — that users stumble across while they’re browsing for how to spend their hard-earned rewards. Advertisers and sponsors pay to place these deals in the app, ostensibly funding the rewards.
It’s not a brand new model. Apps like Google Opinion Rewards and Swagbucks also hand out pocket change for responding to survey questions and watching ads. But read OnMyWay’s fine print and you may question the value of what you’re getting. Its business model depends on gathering a truckload of data on users, while the rewards it promises are often unavailable or could take years to earn.
To sign up for the service, users hand over their email address, phone number, street address, date of birth, and even scan their driver’s license. Once in the app, users are asked to give OnMyWay access to their location (so it can track when they’re driving) and to their SMS messages (so it can reply to incoming texts with a boilerplate “I’m driving” message).