What is DrnkPay?
DrnkPay is mobile payments system which stops people overspending when they are drunk. It’s an app that connects the user's credit and debit cards to a breathalyser or biosensor wearable so it knows how much they have drunk and limits certain purchases if they have had too much.
Why did you create DrnkPay?
iBe TSE saw the need for the new system after research revealed half of UK alcohol drinkers aged 18-34 admitted they have regretted a purchase made when drunk.
How does it work?
1. Users link cards to the DrnkPay app (iOS and Android), then select the number of drinks they wish to have in advance (e.g. 3 pints of beer).
2. The types of payments to block are selected (e.g. bars / pubs, food, online, flights, shopping or all categories)
3. All cards are then blocked for 12 hours.
4. A breathalyser, which is connected to the system via bluetooth, is used before each purchase to authorise payment.
5. If the user is under their pre-defined limit, the relevant cards are activated and payments can be made.
6. If the user is over their limit, their cards are blocked and cannot be used.
Are any of your clients going to roll it out? If so, when?
We are currently in discussions with a number of banks and card providers about rolling the technology out to their customers within the next 12 months. The aim is for the system to be offered for free by providers looking to help their customers control their spending.
When will it be available to consumers?
That’s up to the providers but we’re looking at a consumer roll-out in 12 months.
Will it strand people as they can’t buy a taxi home or public transport?
No. The app includes a ‘Help me out’ feature, where users can book an emergency Uber to get home safely. We’re also looking at including other public transport options like Oyster Card payments.
How accurate is it?
Accuracy is very important to us. That’s why we only enabled the most accurate devices to work with DrnkPay. For example, the BACtrack device that works with DrnkPay is used by several police forces in the US. Plus several reporters have tested the breathalysers we use and found BACtrack is the most accurate. You can read more on the accuracy of BACTrack breathalysers here.
Can’t people just go and get cash out of the ATM or get their friends to buy them drinks?
DrnkPay is aimed at people who need a nudge in the right direction so they don’t overspend when drunk. It isn’t aimed at people who have zero willpower and will try to beat the system as easily as possible.
How long does it lock people out of their cards for?
It locks people out of their cards for 12 hours but this is configurable in the app.
Would your cards registered in Uber/Paypal be blocked by the app as well?
No. In terms of Uber, the app includes a ‘help me out’ feature, where users can book an emergency Uber to get home safely.
For Paypal, it won’t block payments that are made with your Paypal balance but it will block any payments made with the card registered with Paypal, if you’ve told DrnkPay to block them.
What’s the next phase of development?
The next phase of development is to allow more detailed blocking of payments. We’re also looking at new technologies that could integrate with the DrnkPay platform.
Who would be interested in a service like DrnkPay?
Initially banks and card providers are interested in offering DrnkPay to their customers. However, we’ve had lots of interested from the most important people who will benefit from this technology: consumers.
What’s the science behind DrnkPay?
DrnkPay was born out of robust academic research on behavioural economics from Stanford and New York University. The two broad themes informing the technology are:
1. People spend more when it’s easier to make purchases (e.g. credit cards make physical cash invisible)
Psychologist Dr Priya Raghubir (Stern School of Business at New York University) and Dr Joydeep Srivastava (Robert H Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland) wrote a widely cited paper in 2008 that revealed “people are willing to spend or pay more when they use a credit card than when using cash".
2. Computers have the ability to change what you think and do
According to Dr B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, computers can motivate you to stop smoking and persuade you to buy insurance. Fogg has coined the phrase "Captology" (an acronym for computers as persuasive technologies) to capture the domain of research, design, and applications of persuasive computers. Fogg has written a leading book on this topic. You can read more about designing for behaviour change with persuasive technology in this excellent Wikipedia article.
The introduction of technology like DrnkPay helps people actively change their behaviour when it comes to spending money while drunk. Think of it like someone with high blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor so they are alerted to issues and are then motivated to take action.
Finally, here’s a good summary by Dr Seth Rankin, founder of the London Doctors Clinic about why people overspend when they are drunk.