Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum & Monero have taken the world by storm. What started as a geeky online community has grown into a global phenomenon which has gained traction with investors all over the world.
Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably Bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others, and confused the heck out of the rest of us. Thomas Carper, US-Senator
As the value of cryptocurrencies have sky rocketed so have the number of companies using a variation of blockchain or cryptocurrency technology to attract investment. The digital health sector has not disappointed.
Two apps, Vlique and SweatCoin, have combined the worlds of online currency and fitness to create platforms where you will be rewarded for working out with a fitness based cryptocurrency.
SweatCoin, which launched in 2015, has soared to the top of the iTunes charts garnering over 5 million downloads and 2 million active users. The hype created by the initial roll out has attracted serious investment from several venture capital firms - however, quite how SweatCoin plan to monetise their initial success is unclear.
The basic premise of SweatCoin is that for every 1000 steps you take you earn a single SweatCoin which can be used to purchase a variety of fitness related products - ranging from a Fitbit to gym classes.
However, there have been a number of criticisms of SweatCoin. Firstly the app is constantly running in the background of your phone meaning that it drains the battery very quickly. In addition SweatCoin only counts steps taken out doors so workouts at the gym will not help you gain SweatCoins.
There have also been criticism of the offers available to SweatCoin users. For example a Fitbit is priced at 375 SweatCoins which would take even the most active person well over a year to accumulate.
Vlique on the other hand has taken a slightly different approach - favouring a cash redemption model - similar to a nectar card. App users will pay for gym glasses, yoga sessions etc. with either traditional currency or Vlique coin and then have their purchases partly redeemed in virtual currency.
The virtual currency can then be used to purchase or get money off a wide variety of products including meals at restaurants and spa days.
“We’re trying to put a nice millennial pink face on cryptocurrency,” says Katie Booth, one of the co-founders of Clique which launched back in 2016. The company are currently in the process of launching the cryptocurrency through an initial coin offering to gather investment.
It remains to be seen how both these companies will fair in the doubly volatile market that is digital health and cryptocurrency. At StepJockey we will be tracking their progress with interest.