Sweatcoin, which is based in London, awards its users with digital currency — one “coin” for every 1,000 steps you walk or run while using the app. Save up enough coins and you can exchange them for real-life products and services, like workout gear or a yoga class. Coins can even be sent to friends or donated to buy items for charity.
“Sweatcoin really does function like money. Vendors are accepting it as payment. And I can send Sweatcoins to you. You can send Sweatcoins to me,” Oleg Fomenko, the co-founder of Sweatcoin, told CBS News.
Gus Ide has been using the app and says it’s a great motivator.
“For me, it’s just seeing, having visibility on how far you’ve gone. I’m always thinking, ‘OK, so I did this last week. How much am I doing this week?’” he said.
Sweatcoin is part of a growing trend in digital fitness apps that offer rewards the more you exercise. Apps called Bitwalking and Gympact also pay users in virtual currency, while Charity Miles turns steps into charitable donations for the cause of your choice.
The Sweatcoin app is free to download and has no ads. It is currently available on the App Store for iPhones; an Android version is expected to launch soon.
The company hopes to eventually make money through deals with insurance companies, health care providers, and employers who want to motivate their employees to exercise.
As for Gus Ide, he’s still tracking his steps, collecting his sweatcoins and trying to decide what to buy.
“I’m waiting, saving up for some good stuff,” he said.