The U.S. government has pumped the breaks hard on a new start-up that’s billing itself as the first Yelp-Instagram-cryptocurrency hybrid. Reuters reports Munchee’s $15 million “initial coin offering” was shut down today by the SEC, whose agents informed the food-review app that it may have broken the law by selling so-called “MUN tokens” (what users get paid in for submitting food reviews) without registering them as a security first.
Munchee’s creators halted the token offering “within hours,” Reuters says, and agreed to refund all the money they’d collected over the previous two days. Which honestly seems for the best: Most Americans have never heard of this new social-networking app that asks “food networkers” to post real-time reviews of restaurant dishes in exchange for tokens they can redeem for food at participating restaurants — and that’s for good reason. If it sounds unnecessary and convoluted (their white paper describes the app as an “immutable and verifiable blockchain-based solution” to Yelp), that’s because it is.
Here’s an explanatory video into which it’s hard to exaggerate how many tech buzzwords Munchee managed to shoehorn:
All you have to do, per the video, is “take stunning food pics,” “review them,” then “share them with others on Munchee and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.” You’ll earn tokens to spend on food so you don’t get “hangry — hungry and angry at the same time.” Munchee promises the reviews you’ll constantly be leaving will also make you into “an amazing food critic in the most possibly creative and visual way.”