If you were to look back through the history books, you’d see that money wasn’t always the be-all-and-end-all of society. Before consumerism came along and bit us all in the butt, people did what they could to obtain the necessary products and services to survive and make their lives just that little more pleasant. And it didn’t always require hard cash.

What I’m talking about, of course, is mutual back-scratching and the trading of services. With that in mind, this neat little iOS app serves as a timely reminder that sometimes it’s good just to be able to do things for others because we’re able to…but relax, we’re not talking all-out altruism here.

Wederbank hit The Next Web’s radar during our conference last week (see all our coverage here), as the Dutch founders demoed their app in the main concourse alongside dozens of other startups. There was something about this app which really struck a chord with me…it’s so perfectly simple and could serve a genuine purpose if it can get enough traction.

Wederbank? Do me a favor…

In its simplest possible terms, Wederbank is a repository for favors…it helps you record when you do something for someone else without being compensated for it. And at an undefined later point, you can call on that person to do something for you in return.

At a micro level, this could be between a group of friends. If a buddy helps you move house, putting in hours of back-breaking work carting furniture up flights of stairs, Wederbank helps you record this so that you can offer your services to them at a later point.

Now, it would be easy to say ‘but friends should do things for each other, there’s no need to write this down’. I do take that point, but it’s the broader sentiments behind this app that I really like…quid pro quo, people doing things for each other without a dime changing hands. Plus, it can be easy to forget about all those situations when you perhaps pay for dinner when your pal forgets his wallet…after a few glasses of wine, memories can get muddy.

Moreover, it could be used beyond buddies too. With companies of all sizes facing tough economic times, it makes sense for firms to collaborate and offer each other services without a promise of payment. Designed a simple website for a local courier company? They can return the favor by transporting a batch of important documents for you across the city to meet a deadline. These ‘favors’ are what Wederbank call ‘weders’.

How it works

When you’re first in, you have to connect your Facebook account with the app. No sooner are you in, and Wederbank is already asking you for a favor in return for giving you the app for free. In an attempt to get some free promotion, it asks you to spread the good word through Facebook by sending a message across the social network to your friends.

To create a weder, you do so from the main Wederlist screen when you first log-in to the app. Once you hit the little ‘+’ icon, you’ll be asked whether you received a favor or did a favor. It will then ask you to select from a list of people in your Facebook contacts, and then you’ll enter a description and the relevant time/date of the favor. When you hit ‘Save’ the weder is created.

a3 520x366 Quid pro quo: Wederbank is an app for recording and tracking favors

The more favors that exchange hands, the more your Wederlist will grow, and you’ll be able to see a list of events that have taken place  involving you and your friends doing things for each other.

b9 520x368 Quid pro quo: Wederbank is an app for recording and tracking favors
I’ve played around with this, and whilst there is room for improvement, the Netherlands-based startup has certainly hit upon a good idea which can be worked on.

At the moment, however, there are too many restrictions as to who can use the service…you need to have a Facebook account and an iOS device. Granted, that still includes a lot of people, but given that favors aren’t always carried out between best buddies, and half the smartphone-owning public have an Android device, this will preclude a lot of people from using it.

However, we’re told that support for other platforms is on the way, with Twitter and email integration imminent. For this to take off with businesses, I’d also say that LinkedIn integration is a must, as it could prove to be a very useful tool for firms to exchange their areas of expertise without busting out their cheque book.

It’s early days still, but we’ll be keeping tabs on this startup to see where it goes from here.

Wederbank