Speak Asia launches new website: So what’s ‘Yug’?
Despite missing three self imposed deadlines, as promised Speak Asia launched its revamped website sometime last night.
Looking much the same as their previous website, the main addition to the new website is a shopping portal.
Within this portal Speak Asia members are encouraged to purchase electronics using rewards points they get for completing surveys.
Here are the main changes I’ve noted along with the introduction of SpeakAsia’s new website.
The SpeakAsia Online Yug Shopping Portal
Before the regulators went gangbusters on them, Speak Asia were essentially producing surveys nobody had commissioned and paying out members from existing and new member’s subscription fees.
Members were able to make a paltry $7 USD and $20 USD a month by filling out surveys, but the bulk of revenue generated by Speak Asia’s panelist was paid via the recruitment of others to the company.
Post regulatory investigations, Speak Asia has sought to re-invent itself as a consumer portal. Looking at their new website, first and foremost is the introduction of something called ‘Yug’.
As far as I can tell Yug have no operational history in any other market around the world. Infact the only thing I could find on them were questions from Speak Asia members wondering who they were.
Not having heard of them myself, I can only assume that Yug itself is a rebranding of third party manufactured products ordered from China (or somewhere similar).
Currently on Speak Asia’s website there are only two products for sale, a 32″ LED TV going for $428 USD and a 22″ LCD TV for $225 USD.
Both televisions are Yug branded and as such nothing is known about the quality of the product or accuracy of the suggested retail prices given. Being third party branded products nothing is stopping Speak Asia from just making up any old prices and publishing them to their website.
In addition to the two televisions, there are also a whole host of other product categories available for preview but all of these are listed as ‘coming soon‘ and don’t contain any prices or further availability details.
Note: I was getting quite a lot of Server Runtime Errors as I tried to browse the catalogue. They seem to be only temporary but once you get one your session doesn’t seem to recover and you need to start again.
A shift away from surveys towards advertising
In what were traditionally referred to as surveys, no doubt due to a lack of market interest (despite Speak Asia claiming otherwise), the company is now referring to it’s surveys as ‘ads’.
Taken from the ‘why join?’ section of their new website;
Speak Asians earn Performance rewards in terms of product referrals, savings on special prices, referral earnings (subscriptions) and surveys (Ad viewing).
I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned ‘ad viewing’ and doing a survey are completely different activities. It’s interesting to see how Speak Asia have decided they’re now one and the same thing.
The SpeakAsia Online ‘channel’
This was touted as being a Speak Asia Online TV channel by members of the company but it seems that the SpeakAsia channel is nothing more then a platform for advertisers to deliver ads to the SpeakAsia community.
Explained in the company’s new ‘The Concept’ webpage;
Speak Asia is one of the most innovative media channels today as it allows the companies to place multiple type of marketing and promotional content on our website.
SpeakAsia having its own television station never made any sense so it’s good to see the company clear this up. Unfortunately for members, a media advertising channel is rather bland compared to a fullblown television station.
Better luck next time guys.
Subpanels have also been further clarified as multiple accounts belonging to the same person. SpeakAsia claim that ‘we believe can handle up to 20 surveys in a week without any compromise on quality.’
This is interesting because as a market research company, they’re effectively saying they’ve got no problems with each member having 10 accounts in total and handing in up to 20 surveys each week.
How you can claim any sort of data accuracy with these inflated survey numbers (completed by the same people) is beyond me. It’s not like people are going to change their responses on the surveys, so why have sub panels in the first place?
The answer of course lies in the referral (recruitment) commissions which, despite the introduction of a shopping portal, are still the heart of SpeakAsia’s operations.
This is hightlighted in the fact that if you choose to ignore SpeakAsia’s shopping portal and redeem your reward points for cash, the amount you withdraw ‘cannot exceed your referral income from sale of e-zines‘.
Naturally there’s no mention of your survey income as in comparison to the recruitment commissions offered by Speak Asia, they are negligible.
Ongoing problems with paying out Speak Asia members
Recently, to test the waters no doubt, SpeakAsia attempted to process payments to some of its members in what they called ‘test payments‘.
Unfortunately for the company, earlier restrictions placed on the company by the Reserve Bank of India (what Speak Asia are calling ‘precautionary circulars‘), they were unable to transfer money into any Indian bank accounts.
SpeakAsia claim they have ‘put in process all the necessary actions with the competent authorities for allowing us to resume our normal banking operations‘.
SpeakAsia can put in process all the actions it wants but I wouldn’t count on anything changing as long as the company relies on member recruitment as it’s primary source of revenue.
Back on July 3rd it was reported that ‘The Corporate Affairs Ministry has asked the Registrar of Companies to inspect the books of accounts of Speak Asia‘.
This report was to be handed in on July 10th but I’ve yet to see anything on it. I imagine once it’s been digested by the relevant authorities we’ll hear something.
No doubt this is in response to Speak Asia’s plans to register themselves in India and open an office in Mumbai. Currently they claim this is all underway but I have a sneaking suspicion that it all hinges on what India’s Registrar of Companies find.
At the end of the day, the business model of Speak Asia from a member standpoint is still relatively the same. Sure, they’ve increased the ways in which members can spend reward points but a lack of spend options wasn’t what drew people to the company in the first place.
In other words, it’s a solution to demand that never existed. What enticed people to join Speak Asia was the high commissions paid out if members went out and recruited other members to the company.
This still exists and members are still able to exchange their reward points for direct cash commissions. Well, at least they will be if Speak Asia are ever permitted to commence banking operations in India again.
By not altering this reliance on recruitment to generate commissions Speak Asia haven’t really addressed the problem that got them into hot water in the first place.
Hopefully the authorities aren’t taken in by flashy shopping portals, promises of local offices and other ways for members to spend their reward points.
Speak Asia’s recruitment driven business model is the same and until that’s changed, we’re back where we started at.