Sweatcoin: The Physical Reward For Exercise
Exercise is one of those things that looks a lot worse than it is. Sure, there are doctors from all over telling us how super-important exercise is and how we need to do it if we don’t want to die 30 years younger than we should and leave massive bloated pasty corpses. But exercise is always one of those things that pays off later, and that makes it hard to build a habit around. Sweatcoin, meanwhile, is out to make exercise pay off today by being one of the few mobile payments apps that pays you.
Sweatcoin, which recently landed $5.7 million in a seed round of funding that will allow it to go global fairly soon, is currently the number one app in the UK, ahead of even Facebook and YouTube, based on reports issued by the company. Sweatcoin landed that cash from Goodwater Capital and Greylock Partners, among others, and it’s got a very novel proposition: pay people to exercise.
Essentially, how Sweatcoin works is that users download the mobile app, and from there, connects to a GPS system to track your movement. Your movement is subsequently paid for in sweatcoins, the app’s own currency system, which can be used at a variety of vendors for new gadgets, assorted gear, and even experiences. Sweatcoin counts over 300 brands to its credit as taking sweatcoin.
Sweatcoin is currently working with local governments to have sweatcoin accepted as a tool to pay one’s taxes, even traded for other cryptocurrencies, and the results have been impressive. The user base is between nine and 20 percent more active, on average, than it was when it started.
It’s a concept that brings an almost frightening new meaning to the phrase “sweat equity.” Though reports from the users, as spotted on iTunes, suggest that it takes an almost preposterous length of time to earn the best rewards—11 years by one measure—the concept alone is noteworthy. If health insurance firms and hospitals and the like really wanted to cut their costs, backing a program like this that encourages users to exercise by direct cash incentive isn’t a half bad plan.
While there are certainly issues here, Sweatcoin’s concept is sufficiently novel to make it one that bears closer examination.