Get the point

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With point systems, buying things or answering questionnaires online will earn you rewards. Melanie C. Redmond talks to point man Minoru B. Tsubota, Marketing Director of (Japan), about the possibility of points.

Generally, a point system (a.k.a. incentive program or loyalty scheme) is a popular way for vendors to attract customers. The most common example of a point system is a frequent flyer miles program-when you fly, you earn miles that you can use toward future flights on that same airline. However, there are sites on the Web that cater to more than one merchant; with sites like iPoints (, MyPoints ( Netcentives ( offering the opportunity to earn and spend "points" at a variety of online retailers. Another such company, ( and, whose Japanese site is a joint venture with Oracle Japan, Softbank e-Commerce Japan and Hikari Tsushin, is the most visible internationally, with millions of loyal users in 24 countries. No longer content to just spend money, consumers are attracted to what and other companies offer-credit that you can use towards new purchases, thereby rewarding your shopping savvy with a discount.

Please tell me a little bit about your company.
Well, launched in both the US and UK in March 1999, and now we have 4.4 million consumers and over 400 traders worldwide. We have offices in 24 countries and all those numbers are rapidly expanding on a daily basis. In Japan, there are on average 900 sign-ups everyday, and the total number of official Japanese traders is 18 including both Spend and Earn sites.

What makes different from other point systems?
You see, has an "open point" system, unlike all other "closed point" systems. For instance, people can obtain frequent flyer miles, but where can they use the mileage? Only within the same company and system. Also, those points will expire on a certain date. beenz™, on the other hand, can be earned and spent at many different sites at any time. Also we call beenz™ the web's currency™ because 1 beenz™ =1 beenz™ no matter where you go on the Internet in the world. You can earn and spend beenz™ at any site with which has a contract. For instance, if you found out that your favorite musician just released a new song, you can download it instantly using beenz™ from, without registering your credit card.

How does the system work?
As you can see on our site, we coordinate three groups. One is the consumers, who sign-up with us and do a little "e-work" to earn beenz™. Basically, e-work is very simple and easy, like punching in an email address or just clicking on answers to questions. Then adequate beenz™ are credited to their account. The other group is the traders that need consumers to sign-up on their site, gathering information like questionnaires and online shopping habits. This group can give beenz™. The last group is comprised of the traders that want to sell their goods online. Instead of money, they take beenz™ instead.

Is there a limit to the number of beenzTM you can earn?
No. No amount limitation. No expiry date. Unless you lose your email address, since that is the only way we keep track of points.

What are the most popular ways that local users spend their beenz™?
In Japan, the biggest hit today is coffee bags. Beside coffee bags, Japanese consumers have also bought LEGO toys, and soon they will be able to get Sanrio Hello Kitty goods. Also we have a "beenz shop" where people can pick up goods such as notebooks and bandanas with the emblem on it. The Web address for the beenz shop is  

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