The Japanese company Bitwalking has launched an app that allows its users to convert their steps into a digital currency. A mobile app will track distance travelled and verify this against human motion to allow walkers to earn around one Bitwalking Dollar (1 BW$) per 10 000 steps. The digital currency can then be spent in an online store, traded in for cash, or transferred to other Bitwalking users. The company’s aim, it claims, is to provide a greater incentive to keep fit.
The app has thus far been launched on both Android and iOS platforms in Japan, the UK, Malawi and Kenya and its founders have suggested it could especially make an impact on the developing world. Murata, a big Japanese electronics company, have pledged wearable wristbands to replace the mobile app, thereby eliminating the reliance of the program upon a smartphone. The average daily wage in rural parts of Malawi is equivalent to £1 a day and so the Bitwalking program could allow walkers to increase their monthly income by a sizeable proportion.
The founders of the start-up were able to secure over £6 million worth of funding from various Japanese investors to initiate the project, however the success of the program will be heavily dependent on the willingness of other organisations to become partners. The company is expected to target health insurance firms, sports brands, health services and advertisers.
Currently, individuals may only be invited to take part in the scheme, however, as the company grows we can look forward to giving it, quite literally, a run for its money.