Tuesday 11 December 2018

'PayTren' - an Indonesian-based 'MLM/Prosperity Gospel' cultic racket hiding behind 'Islam.'

Yesterday, I was sent a link to a disturbing article on 'PayTren' - and asked for my opinion.


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How Paytren is selling mobile payments to Muslims

With religious-themed marketing and a sharia-compliant business model, Paytren tries to go mainstream in Indonesia.


Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and as such, there’s an ongoing debate about whether certain financial activities are compatible with Islamic law or not.
A growing number of banks in Indonesia provide sharia-compliant financial services to address this issue, and several fintech startups are following suit.
Paytren, a mobile wallet, and bill payments app are perhaps the best known among these, and it’s becoming a showcase for the question if and how the use of religious-themed marketing and sharia-compliant business models can become mainstream in Indonesia.
Founded in 2013 by a popular Islamic scholar, Yusuf Mansyur, the firm went through a rough patch in 2017 when its strong religious positioning and the multi-level-marketing scheme it employs stirred a public debate. But the company prevailed and found strong supporters in the form of Grab, who formed a strategic partnership with Paytren in late 2017. Earlier this year, Paytren received an e-money licence from Indonesia’s Central Bank. In addition, Mansur’s company has also pocketed a certificate in Islamic finance by Indonesian Ulema Council.
On the company’s website, Mansyur claims he’s building his business based on a religious approach that’s in accordance with the Islamic capital market system and with Islamic law.
How Paytren Works
We spoke to a Paytren marketing agent called Ahmad to learn more about Paytren’s business practices.
There are two types of accounts on Paytren; Paytren e-money, which is free, and has features similar to many other e-wallets, for example, cashless fund transfers and utility bill payments.
The other is Paytren 5.0, for paying members who want to get involved as Paytren agents.
Paytren’s paid membership means you can become a reseller for products from Paytren’s merchant partners to earn some money off each sale. This includes train tickets, mobile top-ups, insurances, and so on. Based pa on the partnership deal Grab struck with Paytren, it also rewards agents for signing up new Grab drivers.

Other startups in Indonesia are also using this reseller/agent model, for example, Kudo, which Grab acquired in 2017, and Kioson. Bukalapak and Tokopedia, two of Indonesia’s biggest online marketplaces, are now also building out an agent network. But usually, these do not require paying an upfront fee.
Paytren’s paid membership business model is similar to a multi-level marketing (MLM) concept, where existing partners are incentivized to recruit new members. The basic license costs IDR 350,000 (roughly US$24).
“By purchasing the license (to become a Paytren agent), we are entitled to run Paytren’s business by inviting new members to join the paid membership programme. The more people join Paytren through our network, the more commissions and rewards we’ll get,” Ahmad says.
“Rewards” in this case means the opportunity to win prizes, from smartphones, free Umrah travel packages (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca), to luxury cars, and even houses.
Ahmad claims that the paid membership gives plenty of additional benefits, including getting cashback for every Paytren transaction, and mentor guidance for how to run a Paytren business. “This Paytren business can also be passed on to children or grandchildren, so it is very promising,” says Ahmad.
Paytren and Islam
At the end of last year, a number of arguments about Paytren were circulating in online forums, mostly discussing the legitimacy of Paytren’s ‘syariah’ concept while using the MLM business model. The debate has cooled off a bit now that Paytren is legitimized by both Islamic and state authorities.
In promoting Paytren’s business, Ahmad (and many other Paytren agents) use Islamic terms like Hijrah (the transformation of self, mindset, and way of life following Islamic law), halal (anything that adheres to Islamic law), to promote the app. They also claim that Paytren partners will have an opportunity to make a contribution to society, as Yusuf Mansur’s teaching usually emphasizes charity.
Mansur says that Paytren is in line with Indonesia’s goal to promote entrepreneurship, as it helps open business opportunities for local communities. He also denies fears that multi-level marketing businesses can get problematic and exploitative.
“As long as it is done honestly and rightly, multi-level marketing is a good concept. Because with this model, we create a tiered networking scheme so that everyone can get its economic benefits,” Mansyur said in a speech.
Paytren seems to develop quite well today, with over 500,000 installs. It’s ranking in the top 40 of finance apps in Indonesia, according to AppAnnie, along with other mobile wallets such as Ovo and Dana, official e-banking apps, and online lending apps.
Paytren didn’t respond to multiple requests to be interviewed for this story.
Editor: Nadine Freischlad
copyright KrAsia 2018


'Multi-Level Marketing' warning:

The following deconstructed analysis has been formulated to sharpen the critical and evaluative faculties of all unwary persons approaching so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing' from the dangerous (subjective) point of view that it must be a business/industry, rather than from the safe (purely-objective) point of view that they don't really know what it is.


More than half a century of quantifiable evidence, proves beyond all reasonable doubt that:

  • the widely-misunderstood phenomenon that has become popularly-known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' (a.k.a. 'Network Marketing') is nothing more than an absurd, non-rational,  cultic, economic pseudo-science maliciously-designed to lure unwary persons into de facto servitude, dissociate them from external reality and not only steal their money, but also deceive them into unconsciously acting the role of bait to lure other unwary persons (particularly their friends and family members) into the same trap. 
  • the impressive-sounding made-up jargon term, 'MLM,' is therefore, the misleading title for an enticing structured-scenario of control which has been developed, and constantly acted out as  reality, by the instigators, and associates, of various copy-cat, major and minor, ongoing organised crime groups (hiding behind labyrinths of legally-registered corporate structures) to shut-down the critical, and evaluative, faculties of victims, and of casual observers, in order to perpetrate, and dissimulate, a series of blame-the-victim 'Long Cons*'  - comprising self-perpetuating rigged-market swindles**, a.k.a. pyramid scams (dressed up as 'legitimate direct selling income opportunites') and related advance-fee frauds (dressed up as 'legitimate: training and motivation, self-betterment, programs, recruitment leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).
  • Apart from an insignificant minority of shills (whose leading-role in the 'Long Con' has been to pretend that anyone can achieve financial freedom simply by following their unquestioning example and exactly-duplicating a step-by-step-plan of recruitment and self-consumption)the hidden overall net-loss/churn rate for participation in so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100%.

*A 'Long Con' is a form of fraud maliciously designed to exploit victims' existing beliefs and instinctual desires and make them falsely-believe that they are exercising a completely free-choice. 'Long Cons' comprise an enticing structured-scenario of control acted out as reality over an extended period. Like theatrical plays, 'Long Cons' are written, directed and produced. They involve leading players and supporting players as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, script, etc. The hidden objective of 'Long Cons' is to convince unwary persons that fiction is fact and fact is fiction, progressively cutting them off from external reality. In this way, victims begin unconsciously to play along with the controlling-scenario and (in the false-expectation of future reward) large sums of money or valuables canbe stolen from them. Classically, the victims of 'Long Cons' can become deluded to such an extent that they will abandon their education, jobs, careers, etc., empty their bank accounts, and/or beg, steal, borrow from friends, family members, etc.


** The enticing structured-scenario of control fundamental to all 'rigged-market swindles' is that people can earn income by first contributing their own money to participate in a profitable commercial opportunity, but which is secretly an economically-unviable fake due to the fact that the (alleged) opportunity has been rigged so that it generates no significant, or sustainable, revenue other than that deriving from its own ill-informed participants. For more than 50 years, 'Multi-Level Marketing' racketeers have been allowed to dissimulate rigged-market swindles by offering endless-chains of victims various banal, but over-priced, products, and/or services, in exchange for unlawful losing-investment payments, on the pretext that 'MLM' products/services can then be regularly re-sold for a profit in significant quantities via expanding networks of distributors. However, since 'MLM' products/services cannot be regularly re-sold to the general public for a profit in significant quantities (based on value and demand), 'MLM' participants have, in fact, been peddled infinite shares of their own finite money (in the false expectation of future reward). 

Thus, in 'MLM' rackets, the innocent looking products/sevices' function has been to hide what is really occurring - i.e The operation of an unlawful, intrinsically fraudulent, rigged-market where effectively no non-salaried (transient) participant can generate an overall net-profit, because, unknown to the non-salaried (transient) participants, the market is in a permanent state of collapse and requires its non-salaried (transient) participants to keep finding further (temporary) de facto slaves to sustain the enticing illusion of stability and viability.

Meanwhile an insignificant (permanent) minority direct the 'Long Con' - raking in vast profits by selling into the rigged-market and by controlling/withholding all key-information concerning the rigged-market's actual catastrophic, ever-shifting results from its never-ending chain of (temporary) de facto slaves.

Although cure-all pills potions and vitamin/dietary supplements, household and beauty, products have been most-prevalent, it is possible to use any product, and/or service, to dissimulate a rigged-market swindle. There are even some 'MLM' rackets that have been hidden behind well-known traditional brands (albeit offered at fixed high prices). Some 'MLM' rackets have included 'cash-back/discount shopping cards, travel products, insurance, energy/communications services' and 'crypto-currencies' in their controlling scenarios.

No matter what bedazzling product/service has been dangled as bait, in 'MLM' rackets, there has been no significant or sustainable source of revenue other than never-ending chains of contractees of the 'MLM' front companies. These front-companies always pretend that their products/services are high quality and reasonably-priced and that for anyone prepared to put in some effort, the products/services can be sold on for a profit via expanding networks of distributors based on value and demand. In reality, the underlying reason why it has mainly only been (transient) 'MLM' contractees who have bought the various products /services (and not the general public) is because they have been tricked into unconsciously playing along with the controlling scenario which constantly says that via regular self-consumption and the recruitment of others to do the same, etc. ad infinitum, anyone can receive a future (unlimited) reward.

I've been examining the 'MLM' phenomenon for around 20 years. During this time, I've yet to find one so-called 'MLM' company that has voluntarily made key-information available to the public concerning the quantifiable results of its so-called 'income opportunity'.

Part of the key-information that all 'MLM' bosses seek to hide concerns the overall number of persons who have signed contracts since the front companies were instigated and the retention rates of these contractees. 

When rigorously investigated, the overall hidden net-loss churn rates for so-called 'MLM income opportunites' has turned out to have been effectively 100%. Thus, anyone claiming (or implying) that it is possible for anyone to make a penny of net-profit, let alone a living, in an 'MLM,' cannot be telling the truth and will not provide quantifiable evidence to back up his/her anecdotal claims.

Although a significant number of 'MLM' front-companies (like 'Vemma', 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing', 'Wake Up Now') have been shut-down by commercial regulators, some of the biggest 'MLM' rackets (like 'Amway' ,'Herbalife', Forever Living Products' ) have continued to hide in plain sight whilst secretly churning tens of millions of losing participants over decades.

The quantifiable results of the self-perpetuating global 'Long Con' known as 'Multi Level Marketing,' have been fiendishly hidden by convincing victims that they are 'Independent Business Owners' and that any losses they incurred, must have been entirely their own fault. 

Blog readers should observe how (in the above linked-videos) chronic victims of 'MLM' cults are incapable of describing what they were subjected to in accurate terms. Even though they are no longer physically playing along with the 'Long Con's' controlling-scenario, they unconsciously continue to think, and speak, using the jargon-laced 'MLM' script - illogically describing themselves as 'Distributors.' 

Chronic victims of blame-the-victim cultic rackets who have managed to escape and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived and exploited, are invariably destitute and dissociated from all their previous social contacts. For years afterwards, recovering cult victims can suffer from psychological problems (which are also generally indicative of the victims of abuse):

depression; overwhelming feelings (guilt, grief, shame, fear, anger, embarrassment, etc.); dependency/ inability to make decisions; retarded psychological/ intellectual development; suicidal thoughts; panic/ anxiety attacks; extreme identity confusion; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; insomnia/ nightmares; eating disorders; psychosomatic illness, fear of forming intimate relationships; inability to trust; etc.  

David Brear (copyright 2018)

1 comment:

  1. A Blog reader has e-mailed me to ask:

    'Where is your evidence for saying PayTren is fraud?'

    The common-sense answer to this question is:

    For obvious reasons, the bosses of 'PayTren' have not publicly disclosed the quantifiable results of their activities (i.e. the effectively 100% overall net-loss/churn rates for participation in what they have arbitrarily defined as an 'income opportunity'). This means that no one who has signed up for 'PayTren' can have done so as a result of his/her fully-informed consent