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Trivia knowledge reaps cash

GATESVILLE – Computer technician Malcolm Sears was looking online for innovative ways to pay down student loans when came across the Givling trivia game.

He immediately signed up, becoming number 23,921 on the Givling players roster. Now, more than 400,000 Americans are playing the game.

After winning $80 early on, when Givling prizes were much smaller, Sears just won $15,000. He plans to use the money to pay down his credit cards and car loan.

The concept behind Givling is called “gamified crowdfunding,” and it is an innovative way to crowdsource funds for student loans and other debts. Invented by Libby Pratt after her own financial crisis taught her what it’s like to live in major debt, in four years Givling has given out more than $3.1 million to Americans in debt.

In addition to playing trivia on the app, “Givlings” can watch ads or purchase sponsor products through designated links in order to build up “queue points” and increase their chances of winning. For example, SoFi and LendKey are two sponsors who offer student loan refinancing services that Givlings can take advantage of, and earn queue points at the same time.

“It’s amazing how the app has grown,” Sears said. “It used to take a couple of months for the app to raise the money to pay off a loan; now, we are fully funding a loan every week, it seems. I play Givling every day.”

Sears graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S in Mathematics and from ECPI in Virginia Beach, VA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Technology. He works as a Computer Technician for the public school system in Gates County.

The game works like this: users can, for free, play for cash prizes by answering questions in what’s known as the “orange queue.” They get two free rounds of questions each day — topics range from film and geography to history and literature. Teams of three players win by answering more questions in a given time period. Winners — the payout is usually around $6,000 — can either pocket the cash or use it for points on the “green queue.”

Getting to the end of the green queue offers the game’s most serious reward, a chance for a payoff of student loans. But the competition is heavy and players make use of a number of options to accumulate points — they can purchase additional turns to answer questions or invite friends to play the game, or they might watch an ad or answer a survey from a Givling corporate partner. Users across the board spend an average of just under 11 minutes per day on the app, according to the company.

While the maximum amount allowed has changed, users can currently make up to $2,500 in in-game purchases toward game points in a week, the company says. The typical user pays much less, though — less than $4 each month — and most have never paid to play.

For more information, check out the Givling website, or read about the app at Forbes and CNBC.