The Sweatcoin app counts users’ steps through their smartphone and then rewards them with its own cryptocurrency: the Sweatcoin. As of January 18, 2018, it is currently No. 5 out of the App Store’s free apps, only behind the new Google Arts & Culture app, Netflix, Instagram and YouTube.
Sweatcoin has 2 million active weekly users and gained more than five million users overall in 2017. Those who download Sweatcoin can link up their phones’ accelerometers and GPS data to the app. They are then rewarded 0.95 in Sweatcoin for every 1,000 steps they walk.
Sweatcoin can be accumulated and then spent within its economy on workout clothing, classes, gift cards, and even iPhones and Apple Watches. Participants can also donate their coin to partner charities.
“We are out to fundamentally change the value ascribed to health and fitness and provide the motivation for people to lead better lives,” Co-founder Oleg Fomenko says.
When the startup was founded in 2016, Fomenko brought the blockchain knowledge and one of his partners, Anton Derlyatka was already working on building health apps. They reportedly came up with the idea while out on a run. They joined two other Russian entrepreneurs, Danil Perushev and Egor Khmelev, to launch the app out of a London headquarters.
Sweatcoin is specifically intended to track outdoor steps and boasts a 3.5-star rating on the App Store. Reviews range from raving to fair to dismal, as is not uncommon with a public forum. One user says the app tracks her indoor steps as well, while another says it ignored hours of his outdoor activity.
There are repeated reports that it takes a long time to earn anything really valuable, but that if you choose to buy into upgrades, it goes faster. The free version of Sweatcoin limits your daily earnings to five coins. Users can trade in some of their earnings every month to upgrade their earning limit.
Earning five coins will take about 5,260 steps. Walking more than 3,000 steps a day is regarded as the necessary amount to be considered active and not sedentary.
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues. Some fitness gear companies like Fitbit recommend 10,000 steps per day (about five miles) as an important benchmark.
Sweatcoin is currently thriving in the U.S. and UK markets but plans to expand globally. It has now raised $5.7 million in seed funding in pursuit of this goal.
Derlyatka also wants the team to develop their open-source blockchain so Sweatcoin can be traded with other crypto or fiat currencies and even envisions people using Sweatcoin to pay their taxes one day.
Sweatcoin will undoubtedly face competition — a similar new blockchain app is called simply “Movement.” It has an upcoming ICO and will also reward users for steps (of any kind) with coins that can be spent in an in-app store.