Paying people to get fit isn’t novel idea — we’ve seen KrowdFit doing it and we know that some innovative insurance companies are testing the concept to lower the premiums for their healthy customers.
It, however, all comes to execution and that’s where British startup Sweatcoin comes in with its tagline “steps are money.” They’ve put some great technology behind the idea to make sure every step counts and that false steps aren’t counted for.
The service is available through an iPhone app (with Android version coming soon), allowing users to earn so called “sweatcoins” for “every step they make.” These “sweatcoins” are a form of digital currency and they actually work like bitcoins with all the safeguards included.
“This whole business is pegged to making movement valuable,” Oleg Fomenko, London-based Russian entrepreneurs who co-founded Sweatcoin, told Reuters. “Eventually, sweatcoin is going to have a rate of exchange tied to the British pound.”
For every 1,000 steps, users earn one coin, and if they exercise or walk regularly – within weeks they can have enough of these “sweatcoins” to exchange for fitness products or services in the company’s marketplace; rewards include Vivobarefoot running shoes, Kymira infra-red clothing and fitness classes from Wonderush or BOOMCycle.
For every 1,000 steps, users earn one coin.Sweatcoin has managed to sign up four London start-ups to offer its service as part of an employee rewards program that will offer extra days off, subsidized healthy meals or free massages for sweatcoins they [employees] accumulate through activity.
The company is also talking to major health insurers but these companies are known to be slow to adopt new technologies. Sweatcoin will first have to attract users before it can hope to sign deals to use Sweatcoin metrics as a way of calculating health risks.
Looking down the road, if Sweatcoin succeeds – insurers or employers might pay to take sweatcoins off the market as a reward to users for their physical activity. In the meantime, the company is looking to expand to the U.S. with one of its co-founders, Danil Perushev, now residing in San Francisco to get more traction to the platform.
Sweatcoin has so far raised 610,000 pounds (about $890,000) from a diverse set of London start-up investors and undisclosed music industry heavyweights. Also, it has landed a small grant and promotional support from London Sport, an arm of the Greater London Authority that outgoing Mayor Boris Johnson has pushed to encourage Londoners to become more active.