Listia Wants to Create a Universal Rewards Currency with Rewards Store

By Trevor Gilbert , written on July 18, 2012

From The News Desk

Listia, the Y Combinator-backed startup that enables people to give away excess possessions for free, has launched a Rewards Store. The new program will allow people to get rid of old items that are accumulating dust, rack up points, and eventually trade them those points for everything from a gift card to a new car.

Normally, Listia users find an item they would like to own, and bid a number of free credits to try to win the auction. To obtain more credits, users place items up for auction to each other, use the service frequently, or buy the credits in bulk. This means users accumulate credits over time.

With the Rewards Store, users can trade in their items for points, but instead of using the points for more used items, they can go to purchase brand new items. Today, the company has listed items like a PlayStation, Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, a hairdryer, an iPad. There's also a Fiat 500. The catch for these items, though, is that there is a fixed price -- a high one.

A PlayStation 3 costs 200,000 credits. It would take a concerted effort to get to that amount. If you have one or two very high value items you're willing to part with on the service, you could get to the high level of credits quickly.

While there are cheaper items, like gift cards, the big ticket "get-them-in-the-door items" are the ones that cost a lot. This high barrier could potentially stop many users from trying out the Rewards Store.

Listia had reached a million users in January, and has taken off since then. More than 5 million items have been listed on the service, and the types of items listed has increased in value. In the past six months, the average value of items has increased 50 percent, according to Gee Chuang, one of the company's co-founders.

According to the company, the goal of this program, and really the underlying mission of the Listia, is to create a "universal currency to reward people for giving." It sounds lofty, but if it's able to pull it off, it would be invaluable. Instead of charities needing to sell off donations for cash, they can use Listia credits. There's still the problem of scaling to the size where anything and everything can be purchased on Listia.

In the meantime, there's a Monopoly game over on Listia that I think I might go buy.