A loyalty card has been launched that offers to take a chunk of a student's bar tab to help pay their student loan.
Critics of the scheme said the connection to alcohol was alarming and would encourage students and young graduates to drink more.
The Feejoa card involves promoters that will pay up to five percent of the amount users spend at their business towards their student loan.
Eight bars throughout the country and Warehouse Stationery have initially signed up for the scheme.
Alcohol Healthwatch health promotions adviser Christine Rogan said the scheme exploited students.
"It just seems really ironic that it's a whole bunch of bars that are the first cabs off the rank, if you like," she said.
"Guess what? They're targeting students because they're known to drink at levels that are harmful."
But a founder of the scheme, Phil O'Reilly, said that was not the case.
"All rewards programmes at bars is to reward drinking with more drinks," he said.
"Ours doesn't do that. It actually gives you money to pay off your student loan. So it's actually quite healthy. In fact it's very constructive."
Mr O'Reilly said more than 1000 people had signed up, and modest payments had already been made towards some people's debt.
He said bars would eventually make up a small percentage of the businesses involved in the scheme.
Mr O'Reilly said he wanted to bring in all sorts of companies.
"It's food, travel, services and they dwarf the alcohol spending in our view."
"They just happened to be the first people to adopt it. Great. But we want to go right across the product and service spectrum," he said.