Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct
Imagine being paid to walk. Every time you walk to the shops, walk to work, walk to school, walk anywhere, someone pays you money. Well that’s what Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi have created and it’s taking the world by storm.
Their mobile app counts and verifies each step you take, earning the walker 1 BW$ for approximately 10,000 steps (about five miles). Immediately you can see it won’t earn you vast sums quickly, but hey you’re paid just for walking to work which you’re going to do every day anyway..
The mobile app reports the speed and type of movement as measured by the accelerometer. However, the total amount a person can earn in one day will be capped at approximately 3 BW dollars (nearly 30,000 steps). That’s potentially 90 BW dollars a month (£65 approx.). The Bitwalking team have also developed algorithms to prevent users operating multiple accounts.
In 2015 and early 2016, there has been a trend for fitness trackers with Sony, Garmin, Fitbit to name a few all producing wrist bands that monitor how far you’ve walked. The Bitwalking app just goes that one ‘step’ further by offering an extra incentive to keep fit. In 2016 a Japanese electronics manufacturer is already working on a Bitwalking wrist band that will let users earn without needing to have their mobile with them.
There are many potential advertisers and partners for such an idea. Shoe manufacturers will be quick to come on board, health insurers (think of the advertising campaigns by Prudential life insurance), environmental firms and anyone courting publicity (Virgin are already linked to Bitwalking).
There would be a lot of local search data from all of the users walking around their town or city which potential advertisers could have access to. This alone would generate the real-dollars needed to get the scheme off the ground. Foursquare was a directory app which did similar, providing user’s local walking data to advertisers by way of informing them when users ‘checked-in’ to a shop or business.
Concerns over privacy of individual users walk patterns were answered by the co-founder Nissan Bahar who stated “That won’t be for sale. We may explore offering advertisers the opportunity to focus on different groups depending on how active they are, but we won’t pass on any information relating to individual’s movements.”
Employers could be invited to participate where their employees are encouraged to be healthier and the Bitwalking currency that they earn could be converted then paid in their salaries.
It’s estimated that western world users would earn on average 15 BW dollars a month. It is unlikely users could swap BitWalk dollars for real money but they would be used to buy goods much like the barter system in place before money was invented. Businesses that offer free coffees when you buy nine drinks (think Café Nero) could very easily get on board. Franky Imbesi says “For some Bitwalking will be a free cup of coffee a week perhaps offered by local businesses to encourage people to explore their local shops. For others it could be a game changer, transforming their lives by enabling them to earn and trade in the same way with the rest of the world.”
That is a major point of appeal in the developing world. Poorer individuals where people have to walk far to go to work or to school or just to collect their daily water, could all see real tangible benefits. In this way the western world that has long taken part in philanthropic charity events to help those in need, could help the poorest in the world. Some charity donations never reach their intended recipients due to charity overheads, corrupt local government officials or local gangs who steal food and other goods funded from Western charities. But if Western companies working with Bitwalking could provide goods that users can exchange for their Bitwalking dollars, those poor individuals would directly receive the benefits.
The online store will sell goods for the same price in BW$ as US$. Now the 15 BW dollars per month doesn’t seem so low. $15 is approximately £10.00. There could be many goods bought for say three months’ worth (£30.00) and all from just walking. Keeping the virtual shelves of this online store fully stocked will be one of the first challenges for the new idea, but so far, so good. Of course with such a new platform it isn’t available to download in the app store. It is invite only but YouCom Direct hopes you succeed and you can try your luck below;
Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.
Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Feb 2016, London, ‘Paid for BitWalking’.