soCash - "Free Lunch" Everyday - soCash Review

soCash - "Free Lunch" Everyday - soCash Review

soCash - "Free Lunch" Everyday - soCash Review and Referral

Disclaimer: This post contains a referral link. This referral gives you $5 "free cash" (effectively $5 discount off your withdrawal using soCash), and gives me $3 "free cash". The referral link is: https://link.socash.io/ZIPS4Ft3eS, or click here. I recommend you tap this link on your phone. It may be a good idea to install soCash first before clicking on the link (iOS/Google Play Store). You will receive the $5 free cash whether or not you sign up using my link after your first withdrawal, but using the link "rewards" me with $3 free cash.

Or $5 free per day.. Or $75 free per 30 days..

soCash is an app that I have now been using for a few months, pretty much on a daily basis, so I've had plenty of time to test it out and I'm ready to post all about it.

There is plenty of detail to be shared here and I'll try and go over as much of it as possible without making this unreadable.


Summary/TL;DR

Deal Rating:

  1. First time sign-up: 9/10 - relatively easy and straightforward free $5
  2. Ongoing free-cash: 6/10 - good because it's an easy to understand and effective free cash, but not amazing because it's not a huge amount. The effort to value ratio is so-so - not amazing and not terrible. The lack of concentrated locations drags this rating down.

soCash is good because:

  • It's free
  • It's mildly useful - gives you an additional method of withdrawing money if ATMs have long queues
    • This was particularly useful for me when DBS had a promotion with cashback where if you had 0 withdrawals from an ATM for the month, you would get a higher cashback amount. soCash withdrawals do not count as ATM withdrawals
  • It has been having a fairly good variety of promotions which are reasonably easy to fulfil, such as withdrawing $30+ and getting $0.50+ free and issuing free Grab and Ofo vouchers
  • They seem to be partnered with almost all 7-Elevens throughout Singapore (of which there are many), although withdrawing cash from a 7-Eleven requires a purchase, greatly reducing the attractiveness

soCash is not so good because:

  • Willingness of merchants to give cash via soCash can vary greatly
  • Places can be a little hard to find - not usually because the addresses themselves are wrong, but because Google Maps doesn't seem to always have the correct location. You'll often end up close but have to roam a little bit more and follow shop numbers.
  • Location of soCash merchants, at the time of writing, is quite patchy
  • The Android app is buggy - annoyingly opens by itself
  • Neither the app nor website has a map of locations, which would help greatly. It only shows locations by address, and locations only appear if it is within their opening hours.

What is soCash?

soCash is an app that seems to focus on making it more convenient to withdraw money from small shops/businesses rather than ATMs. In all honesty, based on my experience using it thus far, I have to admit that I do not quite agree that this is true (yet). If it takes off properly, it certainly has the potential to be true!

Their marketing tends to focus on "avoid having to queue up for an ATM", but (understandably) they don't talk about their lack of locations. Their business model can be broken down into "For the Business" and "For the Consumer".

  • For the Business - they seem to focus on small shops and businesses that tend to be cash-heavy. These shops are effectively "ATMs" or "cash dispensers", and is an indirect way of saving businesses from having to think about having to deposit/safeguard piles of cash at the end of every business day. Anecdotally, I have been told that merchants get paid $0.20 per transaction. The nature of merchants can range from convenience stores, money changers to electronic stores. The most random place I've encountered so far is probably the solitary bike shop and the solitary hair salon.
  • For the Consumer - Basically an alternative way to withdraw money. I mentioned that I would most likely not use this app if it weren't for the promotion, but I wish to point out that having more options is never a bad thing - and this will always be the case provided they do not charge consumers. There is no withdrawal fee, nor membership fee, so it's not an option that costs money to have. The most convenient way to use the app is to have a PayLah! account and have soCash automatically debit money from your PayLah! wallet.

The Deal

There are 2 deals:

  • First time sign up bonus - $5 free cash triggered after your first withdrawal, with a subsequent $5 free cash bonus if you make a second withdrawal within 7 days (of signing up, I believe?)
  • Ongoing free cash, or "free lunch".

The First Deal - First Time User Sign Up Bonus

Referral Link

Using the link above gives me $3 "free cash" once you make a withdrawal. You will be entitled to $5 free cash irrespective of whether you use my link.

In a step-by-step format, this is roughly how you can "cash out" of the first time sign up bonus of $5 free cash followed by another $5 free cash for a second withdrawal within a week of signing up.

  1. Download the app - iOS/Google Play Store
  2. Create an account
  3. Identify a merchant on the app near you from which to withdraw cash. Because of the current ongoing promotion, identify a merchant with the text "PROMOTION". Avoid merchants (like 7-Elevens) that have "PURCHASE REQUIRED" because this would be a sub-optimal way of initiating the promotion (but it will still work).
    • There is no map view, which is probably one of the biggest disadvantages of soCash.
  4. Go to the shop and initiate the withdrawal through your app. Because of the current free cash promotion, I recommend you make a withdrawal of $30+.
    • At present, it is not explicitly stated anywhere, but the minimum required to trigger ongoing free cash is $30+.
  5. Advise the shopkeeper you wish to make a cash withdrawal using soCash. They will probably ask you for your request number (shown on the app).
    • 7-Eleven works a little differently, but I won't elaborate on that unless I get requests to, because a sub-optimal way of using it.
  6. They will probably pull out their orange soCash machine and bring up a QR code for you to scan to initiate the withdrawal
  7. Scan the QR code by tapping "Scan & Collect" (on your phone). As recommended above, hook it up to your PayLah! account because it's much quicker than using Internet Banking
  8. Confirm the payment from Internet Banking or PayLah!
  9. Once the transaction is complete, the machine will say, "Transaction completed. Please give the cash", and the merchant will be instructed to hand you the cash as requested. The merchant is required to press "Gave Cash" to confirm the transaction has been completed.
  10. Repeat as many times as the app allows, because every $30+ withdrawal earns you "free cash" of between $0.50-5

Be aware that the first transaction you make will cost you face value (i.e. withdrawing $10 costs $10. $20 costs $20, etc.) It is from your second withdrawal onwards that you will see a "free cash" component which is used to offset the "cost" of your withdrawal. It is effectively a "credit" rather than "free cash" (but the name, "free cash", is honestly not too inaccurate). This means in the context of the free $5 sign up bonus, your next withdrawal will cost you $5 less than whatever it should cost. $20 costs $15, $30 costs $25, and so on, and so on.

This now leads on nicely to the next deal...


The Second Deal - Ongoing "Free Cash"

Once you've got your $5 free cash used up, now what? Is that the end?

It's the end of $5 free cash, that's for sure. Barring any promotions like this, that is. These come up from time to time.

soCash have been running a "free cash" promotion for a long while, which as I mentioned above, is effectively a "credit" component of your account.

The promotion is for every withdrawal of $30+ you make, a "free cash", or "credit" of between $0.50-$5 (current as at 5 Dec 2018) will be credited to your account. Remember that the "credit" (I think I'll call it "credit" from now on - it seems more fitting) is used to offset the cost of your next withdrawal.

You can, in the same transaction, both earn "credit" and use "credit". That means every subsequent withdrawal of $30 you make, which really only costs you $29-$29.50 (with "credit" offsetting the cost), will also earn you "credit" for making a withdrawal of $30+, which is then applied to your next withdrawal.

Here are the limitations around this deal, as at 5 Dec 2018:

  • You can make up to 10 withdrawals per day
  • You may withdraw up to three times from one merchant per day

This means to absolutely maximise this deal, you need to go to 4 merchants and withdraw three times from 3 of them (and once from a 4th one) to earn you a minimum of $5 "credit" daily, assuming you only earn $0.50 "credit" from each $30+ withdrawal. Assuming you do this daily, that's $150/month - which is how I'd prefer to see this deal.

From my experience doing this, I tend to earn $1 credit from one of my ten withdrawals per day, so I really "earn" $5.50.

soCash have over the past few weeks been consistently changing the limits, with limits for withdrawals per day jumping between 5, 6, 8 and 10. Limits on withdrawals per merchant have also been erratic, jumping between 2 or 3. The only way to know what the limit is for sure is to actually try it yourself on the day because I have found it fluctuates very often, and does in fact, affect the attractiveness of this whole "free cash" promotion. Obviously, higher the daily withdrawal limit, the greater your capacity to "earn". The higher the merchant withdrawal limit, the easier your life is as it saves you having to run around to multiple merchants.


Review of soCash

Locations

The best location I have found to do all your withdrawals at once in Singapore is Sim Lim Square, where there are 5 merchants all in the one building. As an additional advantage, it's fully air-conditioned, so you don't finish up all sweaty. There's also a small stretch on Tanjong Katong Road with 3 soCash merchants close together. The areas of Singapore that I have tried soCash so far are:

  • Sim Lim - 9/10 - Indoors, air-conditioned, with mostly welcoming merchants.
    • Bismi Info Tech - extremely friendly and welcoming lady
    • Tech Deals Pte LTD - willing but relatively emotionless staff (but not rude)
    • There is one quirk. There's a merchant at shop #05-78 called "TEC-DROME PTE LTD" which, despite being in Sim Lim, can only be located on the app if you put your location pin near People's Park in Chinatown. I have no idea why this is the case, but it's just something to be aware of. It's been an issue for about a month
  • Bugis - 2/10 - Buzz on Victoria Road is the only option, but tends to only allow one withdrawal per day. The assistant, in my experience, also appears to be quite unfamiliar with using Android (the soCash devices are basically Android phones).
  • Golden Mile
    • Singai Trading & Cargo Pte Ltd, a convenience store, in amongst the HDBs area is very welcoming.
    • Al Matheena Pte Ltd, close to Hotel Boss, is also very friendly and welcoming. It's on the corner of Victoria Street and Jalan Sultan.
    • Mad Hatter - when they are open, they are quite welcoming and friendly, but they often seem to be offline even when their shop is open. Not that there is anything wrong with this. I prefer a merchant be offline than be online and unwilling.
  • Jalan Besar - 3/10 - Just down the road from Sim Lim.
    • Hostel 65 - often online even when they have no cash (which I have reported)
    • Buzz in the MRT station - I tried once. They were online but claimed they had insufficient cash.
    • eFairprice - convenience store (not a Fairprice, despite the name) that kinda looks like 7-Eleven. It's behind the hawker on Jalan Besar, away from the road.
    • 123 Mobile on Dunlop Street has been good the few times I used them and they are open late.
    • Familycare Convenience Store on Veerasamy Road near Jalan Besar MRT and below the HDBs are polite, but sometimes seem unwilling to give out much cash.
  • vivoCity - 2/10 - There is only one merchant in the top level that does soCash. In my one experience there, the shopkeeper was friendly and welcoming.
  • Redhill - 3/10 - Tried once. Haomart is 24 hours, which is convenient, and had a willing shopkeeper.
  • Tiong Bahru - 2/10 - Didn't try the merchants here, but recall seeing maybe one merchant on the app.
  • Tanjong Pagar - 4/10
    • Convenience store in the AXA Tower - tried once. Was smooth.
    • Shenton 2000 Exchange are welcoming/good
    • Mui Yee - I once tried looking, but it was closed despite being online and within opening hours.
  • Clarke Quay - 0/10 - Not a single merchant in this area, besides 7-Eleven, which I will exclude for the purposes of analysing this deal (because of the purchase requirement).
  • Chinatown - 5/10
    • Swiftly Trading (who are really on Keong Saik Rd, not Smith St, as their address suggests) - very good, consistent and welcoming.
    • Sarmus Exchange - very good, consistent and welcoming
    • Save Mart - inconsistent. Doesn't seem to like giving out cash, and sometimes appears online even if they are closed. Not rude, but not particularly welcoming either.
    • B&S Business Management - best way to find this place is to take the lift to level 5 near the DBS branch and walk down one flight of stairs so you end up on level 4, and follow the shop numbers until you reach #04-82. The environment is actually quite strange because it is an office, but the staff are quite welcoming of soCash. Only available on weekdays.
  • City Hall - 5/10
    • Nady (Peninsula Plaza) - indoors, welcoming and friendly.
    • CityLights (Peninsula Plaza) - indoors, welcoming and friendly. Up one escalator on the southern end.
    • SAJ Exchange (Raffles City) - indoors, welcoming and friendly
  • Changi Airport - 0/10 - Not a single merchant. Not even the 7-Elevens at the airport are on soCash!
  • Clementi - 3/10 - Only tried once - a phone store near the HDB area was welcoming. A small convenience store near the HDBs was a little less welcoming but still willing.
  • Katong - 6/10 - Only tried once - Tanjong Katong Road is good. 3 merchants within 50m of each other!
    • 1 2 Cycle (a bike store) - friendly and welcoming guy
    • Green Mart SG (Chinese grocery store) - friendly and welcoming
    • Avighna Trading Services Pte (Indian Grocery Store) - they were willing, but I get the impression they don't get many customers as I seemed to have caught them off guard.
    • Games Paradise (near Parkway Parade/HDBs) - welcoming
  • Kovan - 4/10 - Only tried once - there are two Buzz's near the MRT on opposite sides of the roads at the bus stops. The Buzz in the MRT is also a participating merchant. They didn't seem too willing to hand out the cash, however.

These ratings above are ratings of how good these locations are for soCash, where a higher rating suggests it will be a more pleasant experience (higher concentration of soCash merchants in a small area, air-conditioned, friendlier/willing staff) and a lower rating suggests there are no merchants, or it's a less ideal experience (outdoors with narrow walkways and lots of crowds to battle through, unwilling staff).


Ok, what do I do with the cash after I withdraw it?

Well, whatever you want. I don't need to teach you to use cash right?

However, what I would suggest is to deposit the money right back into your bank account. That way you're maximising the time your cash is in your account to earn you interest and it means you're realising a pretty instant profit. Of course, if you need cash anyway, just keep it to use? Don't forget - you can withdraw more than $30. $30 is just the minimum to trigger free cash, but $40, $50, $60 will do the same.

I don't feel it's right for me to give this deal a particularly high rating because at the end of the day, there is a fair bit of (albeit easy) work involved, which can take a little bit of time.

As a side benefit, soCash often has random promotions where you'll be given a Grab voucher or Ofo voucher. As a direct result of having used soCash, I now ride Ofo quite frequently as they've issued me a few 30-day passes.

Also - don't even think about sharing your soCash account. They have sophisticated systems that pick up when you're trying to share your soCash account! Source: Personal experience - I asked my brother to sign in for me and make a withdrawal one weekend when I was away from Singapore, and I promptly lost access to my free cash. Upon contacting soCash on WhatsApp customer support, I was advised my free cash had been frozen because their systems picked up that I had been logged on to a different device!

The app also seems a tad buggy (Android) - it sometimes randomly pops up out of the blue, which is honestly quite annoying. It seems to do it in bursts of 3 - i.e. it opens 3 times, then it goes dormant for a while. I haven't quite figured out what triggers it, but it's been an issue for a while.


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