When my wife and I left Glendale, California, one of our biggest regrets was leaving behind what WalkScore.com rated a “walker’s paradise.” We’d regularly walk to tons of restaurants, a movie theatre, a grocery store, and not one but two malls. Although we don’t have quite as many notable destinations in reach of our new home, we still try to walk whenever possible, averaging about three miles a day when the weather is nice. That’s why I was very interested when I heard about an app called Sweatcoin that offers a digital currency accrued by walking outdoors.
Sweatcoin is a free app that’s available for both iOS and Android. Upon downloading it, the app will ask for a few basic details as well as for some various permissions, including to your phone’s health data, where it will pull your steps. In fact, the number of Sweatcoins you earn is based on the number of steps you take, with 1,000 steps equaling 0.95 SWC (1 Sweatcoin minus a 5% “commission”).
However, not every step your phone registers will count toward earning Sweatcoins. As mentioned, only outdoor steps qualify at this time (I guess they really want to put the “sweat” in Sweatcoin… except in the winter, of course). Because of this, the app employs an algorithm that is meant to prevent cheating and disqualify indoor movement. Finally, the algorithm will determine how many steps will be converted to Sweatcoins.
At the basic level, Sweatcoin allows you to earn up to 5 SWC per day, plus an additional daily bonus SWC you can typically obtain by watching ads. For those who are more active and want the chance to earn more SWC per day, there are also different levels you can activate. For example, The “Shaker” level (which is one up from the free level) tops you out at 10 SWC a day but costs 4.75 SWC per month. You can also test out the upgraded levels free for one month.
So what can you get with Sweatcoin? Honestly, not much at the moment. Although some of the prizes up for grabs are sure to draw your attention — like the $1,000 PayPal cash — this “Marathon Offer” requires you to cash in 20,000 SWC. That means that, if you’re earning your 6 SWC a day on the basic level (5 from walking and a daily bonus), you can cash out in just over nine years. While some may find that laughable, the app also offers a rotating selection of other prizes, such as free sunglasses, apparel, services, and more for much more reasonable numbers. As I’m writing this, one of the offers is a free Charmz bracelet, which is going for 600 SWC. It’s also worth noting that many of these offers also have a “Pay with Cash” option, that will still reward users by giving them a discount on their purchases.
In a video sent to me after I first signed up for the app, Sweatcoin founders said they were not only looking to someday incorporate indoor steps to Sweatcoin but also hoped to turn the tokens into a full-blown cryptocurrency backed by blockchain that you can convert directly into cash. While it’s a nice thought — and I’d certainly be on board with earning money for my walking — I’m not sure if that grand plan will ultimately pan out. That said, in its current form, Sweatcoin actually could be viable, as their model presumably revolves around advertising and brand partnerships. Ultimately, I’d love to do a full-length review of Sweatcoin once I actually have enough coinage to cash out for something but, for now, it’s at least a nice motivator that’s proven effective in getting me to walk more than I already did. In that aspect, this free app could be a big win… even if it doesn’t directly benefit you financially.
This article was first published on Money@30.