I was blown away by the 2016 movie, Nerve. It follows the story of some high school kids, two in particular (played by Emma Roberts and Dave Franco), who start playing a distributed online game called “Nerve.” It has “players” and “watchers.” The “watchers” watch the “players” and come up with dares for them that have time limits and financial rewards for successful completion. The players play the game, competing against each other, completing dares (hopefully) or failing. The ultimate goal to win the game by being the last player standing.
As the story progresses, dares go from being mild and silly to questionably legal, to illegal, to downright dangerous. I won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen it, but the thing that stood out to me is this:
Nerve is not an out there sci-fi movie that could happen in the future. Nerve could exist right now.
It’s a distributed game protected in a similar way to Bitcoin and other cryptographic currencies. The more systems that connect to it, the more secure it is and the harder it is to take down. So that aspect is entirely realistic. Moreover, networks around the world are faster and more connected than ever. Social media and consumers are driving video content. People are live streaming themselves cleaning their room, talking to a friend that’s visiting, reading a book. Why? I don’t know, but this isn’t new. Webcams have been around for years, and people have been using them to communicate. Now though, people can live stream themselves from practically anywhere in the world to everyone in the world. Not only that, they can do it in high definition.
Take social media one step further. Facebook has built-in financial services. You can save your payment details and make purchases from your account. Apple and Android Pay let you use your phone in place of your compatible bank or credit card. PayPal lets you send and receive money using a myriad of bank or credit card methods. Then, of course, there is Bitcoin, Google Wallet, and more. Perhaps most importantly though, regardless of the method, it’s all instant, all it takes is a fingerprint or a password. Electronic funds transfers are regularly happening. For a consumer, they are usually going out, but the systems are in place for them to come back in as well. Someone just has to connect the dots.
Enter Field Agent.
Field Agent pays you to use their app. Or more correctly, according to their participation agreement, their clients pay you to perform tasks for them. The Field Agent app just facilitates the process. Sound like Nerve?
So to break it down, Field Agent is a market research company, similar to the likes of Pureprofile or OpinionsPaid. The difference is, while those platforms pay you to complete surveys, Field Agent pays you to complete tasks on behalf of their clients in set time frames, sometimes a few hours, sometimes a few days. These tasks can include going somewhere, doing something, videoing something, and answering questions about something. Sounding familiar yet?
In the two weeks since I signed up to see what it was all about I’ve seen tasks like:
- Go to the snack aisle of a 7-11 or Caltex service station. Take a video of yourself there and take note of the prices. Walk outside and video yourself talking about the display and what you do or don’t like about it. If completed satisfactorily you will be paid $12.00.
- Video yourself shopping at Coles. Once you are ready to leave, go to a cashier operated checkout, NOT a self-serve one, and complete a purchase of $8.00 or more. Once outside, video yourself talking about the checkout experience as though you were talking to the store manager. Tell them what went well and what didn’t. You will be paid $22.00 if successful, and you will be reimbursed up to $10 for your purchase.
- If you are going grocery shopping anyway, buy a particular product. Also, get the things you would eat with it when preparing it for lunch or dinner. When you get home, take a photo of the product and your receipt. In the next 24 hours, make lunch or dinner with that product. Take a picture of your prepared meal, then after eating it, answer a short survey on the product. Upon successful completion, you will be paid $3.50 and reimbursed $15.00 towards your meal cost.
Field Agent’s system is not a distributed system like Nerve, and the participation agreement does make it clear in points 4.4 and 6.3 that it cannot be used to do anything illegal, and that it is subject to the law. However, the same agreement states in section 3 that they don’t vet the jobs their clients submit. The precise wording in point 3.1 is:
“…we have no control over the quality, safety or legality of the Services…We do not conduct any screening or other verification with respect to Clients or Agents…”
Section 3.2 does, however, indicate that if they become aware of a job that they consider to be illegal or morally unacceptable they can reject it.
Obviously, it would not reflect well on them if their system turned into Nerve, so I’d guess there is a little more review of the jobs than their agreement suggests, but it certainly does leave it open to just about any task.
That said, Field Agent makes it possible to earn a little extra cash by doing things you are probably already doing anyway and just adding some video and photos to it. All you need is a smartphone or tablet to complete the tasks with and a PayPal account to receive payment.
How does it work, what might a job look like?
Well, the first job I completed required purchasing Birds Eye Oven Bake Fish Fillets with a Garlic and Herb Crumb in addition to the ingredients I might serve with it in a regular meal.
First, to be eligible for jobs, you need to complete the appropriate surveys. When you sign up, there will be surveys waiting for you, and from time to time you will get notifications to let you know that there is a new eligibility survey. I got a new one come in for a job that needed doing that weekend. First, I had to meet the criteria.
From time to time jobs will start appearing, sometimes you will get notifications about them and sometimes you won’t.
Once there is a job for you though, you can read about what the job entails, then choose whether or not to reserve it. Reserving means you are putting your hand up to do the job so no one else can take your place. You then have a timeframe to begin the task. For the tasks I’ve seen, it’s always been 2 hours. Before you reserve a job, it will tell you how long you have to start and how long you have to complete the job. It will also tell you how much the job pays, and whether or not there is any reimbursement for expenses incurred. For my job, it only paid $3.50, but it offered a $15 reimbursement.
After you reserve the job, it’s time to complete it! The one I reserved gave me 2 hours to make the required purchase and then a further 24 hours to finalize the rest of the task.
I was already at the shopping centre, so I went into Coles and found the Birds Eye Fish Fillets.
I then picked out a couple of other items that I could use to make a meal out of it quickly. I’ll admit, they were all frozen items, including frozen veggies, but they served the purpose of getting an unplanned meal within the reimbursable price point. In fact, with things on sale, it came in at only $9.14.
After going through the checkout, I marked off that I had done the first part of the job. Now the countdown to complete the second part of the job begins. So for me, I had 24 hours to take a photo of the fish fillet box and receipt, get home, prepare the meal, take a picture of it, eat it, then provide feedback on the fish fillets.
So I did that, it was a pretty straight forward process.
The Field Agent app walks you through each step and makes the expectations clear.
Once complete, you submit your work for review.
Depending on when you submit it, it may be a few hours to a day before the review is complete and you receive your payment. When you are ready, hit cash out and you can withdraw those funds to your PayPal account.
For my efforts I was rewarded with a $15 reimbursement and $3.50 payment, equating to a profit of $9.36 plus six meals. So really, since I get to keep and eat the food, it’s a profit of $18.50 anyway. Not bad at all for ducking into the shops for something on the way past, making dinner and answering a few questions.
Then, of course, your Field Agent stats are continually updated to reflect your ability as a Field Agent.
Would I recommend it?
Yeah, I would. Field Agent is a great little app to make a little extra cash on the side for doing things you are probably already doing anyway. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to take on jobs, but if I’m doing something anyway, why not?
It’s very easy to get started, so easy that you don’t even need to set up payment information until you have funds to withdraw. It then takes virtually no time or effort to do the jobs as long as you are picking things you would be doing anyway. Plus, I’m always for something that is going to give me a bit of extra cash without much extra work.
That cash could be the difference in going on a holiday in six months vs. seven months, or it could help pay down your credit card debt faster! Whatever it might be, it’s a little way to pick up some extra cash with minimal effort. Certainly not enough to live on, but enough to be worthwhile doing!
Oh, and if you haven’t seen Nerve, here’s the trailer:
“Dolla dolla bill ya’ll.”