Bitwalking dollars: Digital currency pays people to walk

in d •  2 years ago


A digital crypto-currency has launched that is generated by human movement.
Bitwalking dollars will be earned by walking, unlike other digital currencies such as Bitcoins that are "mined" by computers.
A phone application counts and verifies users' steps, with walkers earning approximately 1 BW$ for about 10,000 steps (about five miles).
Initially, users will be given the chance to spend what they earn in an online store, or trade them for cash.
The founders of the project, Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi have attracted more than $10m (£6.6m) of initial funding from mainly Japanese investors to help launch the currency and create the bank that verifies steps and any transfers.

Japanese electronics giant Murata is working on a wearable wristband that will provide an alternative to carrying a smartphone and show how many BW$ the wearer has earned.
Shoe manufacturers are poised to accept the currency, and a UK high street bank is in talks to partner with the project at one of the UK's biggest music festivals next year.
The founders have a track record in disruptive technology that could help developing nations as much as richer ones.
Last year they launched Keepod, a $7 USB stick that acts like a computer in Nairobi, Kenya.

Fitness boost
The idea of Bitwalking is to take advantage of the trend for fitness trackers by offering an additional incentive to keep fit.
The global scheme plans to partner with sportswear brands, health services, health insurance firms, environmental groups, and potentially advertisers who could be offered unique insights into the audiences they are targeting.
In the future, employers may be invited to take part in a scheme that would be offered to their employees to encourage them to stay fitter, with the currency they earn converted and then paid alongside their salaries.
In developed nations the average person would earn around 15 BW$ a month, but it is hoped that in poorer countries where people have to walk further for work, school, or simply to collect water, the Bitwalking scheme could help transform lives.

Double income
Salim Adam walks around six miles (10km) a day to work as an IT teacher at his local college in Mthuntama in northern Malawi.
He has worked out that he can earn 26 BW$ a month just by having the app running on his mobile phone. His current salary is the equivalent of $26 USD.
The impact Bitwalking could make in developing countries isn't lost on the founders. It is one of the central reasons for creating the currency. In Malawi, one of the African nations to join at the launch of the project, the average rural wage is just US$1.5 (£1) a day.
Business advisor, Karen Chinkwita runs Jubilee Enterprises, giving business guidance to young people in Lilongwe. She said: "There may be a temptation for some to walk instead of work.
"But most people want to earn more money and will do both. With some education we can teach them how to use that money to create even more opportunities."
The Bitwalking manager for Malawi, Carl Meyer, has set up the first two Bitwalking hubs in Lilongwe and Mthuntama where local people will be trained how to trade the BW$ online for US$ or the local currency, Malawi Kwacha.
Eventually an automatic online exchange is planned that will match up buyers with sellers and a rough exchange rate will begin to emerge.
The Go! app for iOS and Android devices will initially be offered to a handful of countries, including the UK, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya, to give the organisers a chance to iron out any difficulties before other countries come on board.

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