Walkathons are a popular way to raise funds for charities. Today, at the Nokia Futurecom conference in Brazil, Nokia is partnering with Bitwalking, the Walking Dollars (W$) digital currency app, to launch its first charity fundraising event in São Paulo from October 17-20. Walkers will use the app to raise money for an educational project sponsored by Nokia in Latin America.
The idea behind Bitwalking is to encourage people to remain healthy by walking and get rewarded with Walking Dollars for their efforts. For over a year, the Bitwalking Android app has been undergoing private testing in several locations around the world. Instead of using computers to mine as other digital currencies do, Bitwalking Walking Dollars are mined through the simple act of walking; the more a person walks, the more they earn. The app is able to verify users’ steps using a handset’s GPS position via a Wi-Fi or data connection.
Despite the fact that the mobile app has only recently become available to the general public, according to the Bitwalking team there have been approximately 50 thousand downloads on Google Play. Bitwalking recently debuted their Bitwalking Events Platform, an event dashboard providing real time analytics and progress updates for participants in all Bitwalking events, including the Nokia-Bitwalking Walk for Cause.
Futurecom, the largest telecom, IT and internet trade fair in Latin America, is expected to attract 14,000 visitors. During the four-day event, users across Latin America will have the option to opt-in for the walking event through the Bitwalking app. According to the Bitwalking team, 1W$ can be earned after approximately 15,000 steps. Tying the value of a W$ to the USD for every 1W$ raised, Nokia will donate $1USD for an educational project in Latin America that provides computers and (Android OS) Keepod devices to students in the region.
For Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi, founders of Bitwalking, Nokia’s decision to partner with them is an important vote of confidence for Bitwalking and digital currencies.
“Nokia was the fastest player in their category to recognize the opportunity and put it in action,” Bahar told Bitcoin Magazine.
Diana Coll, head of Marketing and Communications for Nokia, Latin America, said that the Nokia-Bitwalking Walk for Cause event at Futurecom was very important to help expand the human possibilities of the connected world, and that Bitwalking’s platform was a natural fit.
“We want to invent, design and deploy technologies that make a real difference to people’s lives, and to take responsibility for the impact we can make in the world,” Coll said to Bitcoin Magazine. “Through this initiative we will be able to change the lives of hundreds of children just by combining technology and a daily activity for a cause.”
Taking advantage of the fitness tracking trend of logging personal walking stats, Bitwalking has added an extra incentive to keep fit with positive implications on personal health and the environment. It is also hoped that the app will get more people interested in digital currencies.
“By design, digital currencies are not accessible to all,” said Imbesi. “The digital currencies’ potential is getting lost in the hands of a limited amount of people and organizations that don’t really care about anyone besides themselves and their wish to maximize profits.”
“We have no doubt [this effort to popularize the technology] will help us to create a positive impact in the education of children from low-income families in Latin America,” said Coll.
After receiving positive feedback since the launch of the campaign earlier this month, Coll believes that the Nokia-Bitwalking event will attract a large number participants and that, through the use of platforms such as Bitwalking, digital currencies will become easier for people to access.
The Bitwalking Store
Any Walking Dollars generated can be spent with third-party partners at the Bitwalking Store, once it is up and running. Eventually, walkers will have the ability to trade with other W$ users. At present, the store partners include Spotify Premium, Netflix, Tidal, and Mubi. According to Bahar, more partners and product categories will be added to the list.
Previous startups that attempted to do the same thing failed simply because they were unable to measure movement correctly to prevent scammers from cheating the system. Bahar and Imbesi, though, believe that they now have a system that works.
Motivating Bahar and Imbesi is the goal to make Bitwalking simple to use, focusing on the concept that “a step is worth the same value for everyone — no matter who you are or where you are.”
With 1W$ valued at $1USD, a very good walker can achieve that on a daily basis, says Bahar.
“That amount might be your daily cup of coffee in part of the world, or a 30 percent increase in your salary or spending capacity in others,” he said.
At the outset, W$ can only be spent in the Bitwalking Store. More details on the Bitwalking marketplace will be revealed as the app develops.