Move to Earn: When Fitness Pays

The Boom

Market Leaders

Sweatcoin

Step App

MoveZ

Genopets

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits:

  • Profitable fitness: Rewarding individuals for improving their fitness sits at the core of the move-to-earn model. By providing rewards that are usually directly tied to a user’s fitness output and/or for completing specific fitness milestones, they help to provide the boost needed for users to progress along their fitness journey. Various studies have found that financial incentives can directly contribute to improved physical fitness in adults, including this recent meta-analysis of over 23 studies. In addition, larger rewards are shown to motivate otherwise unmotivated individuals to improve their fitness.
  • Multiple access paths: To help make move-to-earn opportunities as accessible as possible, many M2E applications include a variety of potential access paths — ensuring that even those from low-income regions can access the applications without necessarily needing to shell out potentially sizable sums to access M2E opportunities. Some of these alternate access paths include STEPN’s NFT lending and revenue share system as well as MoveZ’ organization account solution — which allows groups and firms to onboard users and incentivize activity through a shared pool.
  • Social opportunities: Since fitness is often as much a social endeavor as it is a health one, many move-to-earn platforms are beginning to incorporate social features — allowing participants to form communities and engage with one another in various ways. This includes local and international events, competitions, meetups, and more. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is MoveZ’ boost zone feature, which allows users to increase their rewards by exercising in specific local zones and interacting with the local community.
  • Athlete exposure: Most M2E applications have public leaderboards which are used to track the relative performance of users. These can be local, national, or even international leaderboards, which participants can climb by competing with other users. In some cases, this performance can be used to secure sponsorships and allows athletes to gain recognition and exposure for their achievements.

Drawbacks:

  • Gamability: Move-to-earn applications typically rely on fitness data tracked by wearables or the device itself. While this data is generally accurate, it can often be manipulated in various ways to falsify the amount of activity it detects which, in turn, can be used to fraudulently increase the rewards earned. Though many M2E applications use techniques like machine learning and GPS data to help detect cheating, some fraction of the reward pool will always be siphoned off by fraudsters — reducing the rewards for genuine users.
  • Speculative: Since the vast majority of move-to-earn applications reward users in a volatile cryptocurrency (e.g STEPN’s GST or Step App’s KCAL), the amount people earn can fluctuate over time, irrespective of their exercise output. In some cases, this can be beneficial if the token appreciates in value, but more often than not it will be a drawback when the token loses value.
  • Poor sustainability: Depending on the tokenomics of the platform’s utility and reward tokens, it is common to see M2E applications with highly inflative token supplies. Since these tokens often have limited utility other than staking and rewarding users, this can lead to significant downward pressure on the market, gradually diminishing the value of the rewards. Likewise, since users can often earn tens, hundreds, or potentially even thousands of dollars per day using the app, this can lead to a rapid influx of new users, further increasing supply-side demand.
  • Limited accessibility: In order to balance sustainability with rewards many M2E applications limit both the number of users that can earn at any one time (e.g. STEPN’s invitation feature) and the amount of rewards distributed per day. This, combined with the requirement to hold either expensive NFTs or a large amount of governance tokens to participate can make it difficult for regular users to begin earning.

Future Outlook

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