An important British wisdom states that it is improper to discuss money – and if the Brits say so, it must be true. But living up to that maxim in today’s society can be quite challenging, especially for students. Take your typical student that lives in a house with five others. Usually, they will share their kitchen, making it virtually impossible if not very inefficient to have everyone get their own groceries and their own cooking. Of course, the big advantage of living in a student house is that you can share.
But what about the – this time – American expression that states: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. Everyone is happy to share in today’s economy, but sharing comes at a price. Of course, there is your general freeloader problem, but in addition to that, it can become quite difficult to keep track of all expenses. That is probably what the inventors of www.wiebetaaltwat.nl (“Who pays for what?”) must have thought.
On their website they give the following example (“Wat is Wiebetaaltwat.nl”, 2014): image we have four students living in a student house: Daan, Bart, Anne and Fleur. Bart went grocery shopping today and spent 15 euros. However, Fleur went for groceries yesterday and spent 20 euros. To see who owes whom you could calculate how much each person is in the positive or negative. For instance, Bart needs to receive 6,25 and Fleur and Daan both need to pay 8,75. Very time consuming to keep this up to date.
That’s why www.wiebetaaltwat.nl offers a tool where you simply enter the amount you spent and the rest is calculated. In addition to that, the website offers many features: it shows records and overviews and can show what you owe to each particular individual.
So what information strategy techniques are at work here? Quite frankly, not that many. And that might be one of the downsides to www.wiebetaaltwat.nl. It is a convenient tool, but there is little co-creation or consumer involvement. That might seem logical, but it is perhaps also a missed opportunity. Imagine for instance that users would be able to see – anonymously – what the expense patterns of other student houses would look like. Or that, next to that, they could post advise on how to do grocery shopping efficiently.
It would give www.wiebetaaltwat.nl a qualitative touch next to its quantitative function. It would enrich user experiences by making them contributors rather than just users. In short, it would add value (Saarijärvi et al., 2013).
But of course, suggesting something like this would violate our British friends, to whom the benefit of a tool like this is that they do nót need to talk about money anymore. A consumer2consumer approach would in fact make you talk about money even more. Nonetheless, it is a trade-off worth considering.
- “Wat is wiebetaaltwat.nl?”. Retrieved from www.wiebetaaltwat.nl
- Saarijärvi, Hannu, P. K. Kannan, H. Kuusela. “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications.” European Business Review 25.1 (2013).