TikTok is really facing its rivals after Facebook initially announced about Collab last week. Now a new competitor is in town. Zynn, a nearly button-for-button clone for TikTok that differentiates itself with one key twist- it pays users to sign up, watch videos and convince others to follow suit. The app was launched at the beginning of May and its now the number one free app in Apple’s App Store and in the top 10 on Google’s PlayStore too.
Zynn is fully a TikTok clone. The core interface is identical and both are oriented around watching short portrait-orientation videos. The big distinction is a countdown timer with a dollar sign in the middle that hovers over every video on Zynn. As you watch videos, the timer fills up and gives you points, which you are supposed to be able to redeem later as cash or gift cards. I haven’t tested to see if this works but a couple of people have posted YouTube videos showing payment receipts.
The app didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, despite what it seems. According to some research, Zynn is the extension of a rivalry over video apps in China. Zynn’s creator, Kuaishou, is a well-funded startup that runs one of the biggest video apps. The app comes second only to Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. Kuaishou used the same technique of paying viewers to grow in China, according ti the research. The company ultimately makes money by selling ads, so long as it brings in more money than it pays out.
Kuaishou recently received a $2 billion investment from Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind WeChat. Kuaishou’s expansion into the US seems to be an extension of that goal, with the company using the same strategy to take on Bytendance and find a space in the market.
Like TikTok, the app launches you straight into watching a video the first time you open it. If you want to earn rewards, though you have to sign up and to sign up, you have to hand over some personal information to Zynn. There is no option to create an account directly with Zynn- it has to be tied to some other service: Google, Facebook, Twitter or your phone number.