PhonePaycheck: The App that Pays While You Charge Your Phone

By Tanner Mondok

College students are always looking for unconventional ways to make money, like allowing an app to use their phone while it’s charging to earn a paycheck.

PhonePaycheck is an Android app developed by NeoCortix, a company located in Mountain View, California, and promoted in Youngstown that pays users to charge their phone. The app is not available for iOS devices.

To start making money, the user has to download the app from the Google Play Store, connect their device to Wi-Fi and then plug their phone in.

The main purpose of the app is to make your phone act as a “fake user” on businesses websites to test for website traffic overload.

Kelli Johnston, a Youngstown State University graduate and independent contractor for PhonePaycheck, gave an example as to exactly how and why the app is acting as a “fake user” on websites.

“Victoria’s Secret runs different sale promotions online and also have the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Therefore, they know that they have certain peak times that people may get on their website,” she said. “In order to make sure that their website can handle the amount of traffic or users at one time, they must test it using “fake users” during times when they are not expecting a lot of actual traffic. Previously, businesses such as Victoria’s Secret would utilize computer processors that would run scripts and act as fake users. This can be very expensive and use a lot of energy.”

Johnston said that since the methods that websites use to test web traffic are so expensive and power hungry, PhonePaycheck creates a “win-win” situation for everyone who is involved.

“Victoria’s Secret is spending less money by giving PhonePaycheck a script to run and the PhonePaycheck users are benefitting from renting out their phone’s processors,” she said. “As a user, you do not see the fake user activity, you just see the app generating money.”

In regards to the amount of money a user can make while using the app, Johnston said that a phone charging with the app running generates 22 cents in eight hours and 66 cents in 24 hours.

To make more money, users can have up to five phones generating money at once. Johnston said that she keeps her main phone and a spare plugged in a lot. The app launched on March 1 and since then Johnston has made $29.49.

“That is money in my pocket that I wouldn’t have had before and I haven’t had to do a single thing for it,” she said. “I know as a college student, every dollar counts.”

The money generated goes into the user’s PayPal account. Users also have the option to donate their monthly earnings to a charity of their choice options like United Way, UNICEF, Save the Children, American Red Cross, PETA, Hope for Paws, Animal Advocates, Animal Aid Unlimited, Humane Society and Let’s Adopt International.

Lloyd Watts, CEO of NeoCortix, said that the idea for PhonePaycheck was born when he decided he wanted to build a company like Google that used commodity processors to build large scale brain-like processes.

“I was preparing to build big data centers out of cellphones, when several friends of mine pointed out that there are 2.6 billion cellphones out in the world, often sitting idle at night when people are sleeping,” he said. “Why not just rent their spare computer time?  Thus, the idea for the PhonePaycheck app was born in August 2016.”

Watts said that there were many problems that occurred when creating the app. He said that some of the reasons for the issues were because even though Android devices have capable processors, the operating system isn’t intended for cloud computing applications.

The reason the app isn’t available for iOS is because Watts doesn’t believe that it would be possible to implement the necessary persistent background services on the devices. Watts also mentioned that it was important that the app was secure to protect users’ personal data and to keep the payment system safe from hackers.

According to data provided by Watts, the app has 482 users, 934 active devices and 39 of those being from the Youngstown area. $2,260 has been redeemed to users since launch.

The app started to be promoted in Youngstown when Watts met with members of the Youngstown Business Incubator at a meeting called Jobs Across America.

Brittany Housel, director of program management at the YBI, said that Watts was interested in getting someone to promote the app in the Youngstown area with the purpose of building up the app’s user base.

According to Housel, the YBI saw a good opportunity with PhonePaycheck to create a strong user base here in Youngstown. She also said that the money the app generates can be helpful to a lot of people in the area.

“As far as people in Youngstown, I think that there’s a certain population, whether it be students or young families that need a little extra money and it’s a great way for them to be able to do that,” Housel said.

PhonePaycheck is available to anyone who owns an Android device and is free to download on the Google Play Store.