How Covid-tracking apps are centered on business profits

Spector sees the current version of the Zoe app as a huge citizen science project. Users can sign up for different studies, including answering questions through the app. The current study includes investigations into the gut microbiome, early signs of dementia, and the role of immune health in heart disease. Before the pandemic, recruiting hundreds of thousands of people for research was nearly impossible, but the Zoe app is now a huge potential resource for new research. “I’d love to see what would happen if 100,000 people skipped breakfast for two weeks in a row,” Spector said.

People reporting symptoms of Covid were not automatically included in these new studies. About 800,000 people have agreed to track their health outside of Covid through the Zoe app, while a small number have signed up for specific trials. But it’s hard to imagine these massive sign-ups without the app playing such a prominent role during the pandemic.

“These emergencies act as catalysts, creating a very unique environment,” said Angeliki Kerasidou, professor of ethics at Oxford University. “What we need to think more carefully about is how we use these situations and how we deal with them.”

There’s also a question about the line between providing care and conducting research, Kerasidou said. At the height of the pandemic, the National Health Service in Wales and Scotland directed people to track their symptoms through the Zoe app. Tracking Covid symptoms this way may seem like a socially responsible thing to do, but since the app’s focus is on broader health tracking and clinical research, shouldn’t people have the same obligation to participate?

German app Luca is going through an even more dramatic turnaround. In spring 2021, 13 German states signed contact tracing contracts with the app for a total value of 21.3 million euros ($22.4 million). Back then, people would use the app to check restaurants or other businesses by scanning QR codes. If they meet someone who tests positive for the virus soon after, the app tells them to quarantine.

But as vaccination rates in Germany increased, state contracts began to evaporate. In response, Lucca’s CEO Patrick Hennig looked around for new business models. February 2022, Lucca disclose It will be turned into a payments app, and its new payments feature will be available in early June.

It’s a bold business decision Germany is known for being cash friendly. According to a 2021 report, around 46% of Germans still prefer using cash study Provided by UK polling firm YouGov, the UK figure is just over 20%. But Hennig hopes to change entrenched habits by leveraging the Luca brand and user base of 40 million registered users the company has built throughout the pandemic.

The idea is that people can use Luca as an alternative to card terminals. At the end of the meal, diners scan a QR code that shows their bill and allows them to pay via the Luca app using Apple Pay or their card details. Hennig is trying to incentivize restaurants to use his system by reducing the 1-3% fee typically charged for using card terminals. Currently, restaurants and stores can use Luca for free, but it will change to a 0.5 percent fee by the end of the year, Hennig said. So far, more than 1,000 restaurants and stores have signed up.

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