Techie entrepreneurs Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi have come up with a novel way to create and launch a new form of digital crypto currency - walking.
Unlike other digital currencies already in circulation, such as Bitcoins that are "mined" by computers, the pair's Bitwalking dollars (BW$) will be earned by walking. Walkers will earn one BW$ for every 10,000 steps, recorded by a downloadable phone app, which equates to five miles. The money can be spent in a specially created online store, or even traded in for cash.
Bahar and Imbesi have so far attracted $10 million of initial funding, mainly from Japanese angel investors, to launch the currency and create a "bank" that verifies steps and handles transfers of earned BW$'s.
Already major shoe companies want in on the action, and Japanese electronics giant Murata is planning a wearable wristband that walkers can use instead of their smartphones. A major British bank is reportedly interested in using BW$'s as a promotion at one of the country's largest music festivals.
Sportswear brands, health insurance companies, health services and environmental groups are on BW$'s radar. Advertising agencies could also be offered unique insights into the Bitwalker’s world.
Imbesi gives the example of an employer using the innovation to encourage employees to become more fit, with the BW$’s they earn being either added to salary or used for shopping in the online store.
He says although BW has virtually unlimited potential in the commercial and marketing worlds, one of the main reasons for its development was for improving lives in developing countries.
"It's a currency that can be earned by anyone regardless of who they are and where they live," says Imbesi.
"For some it will be a free cup of coffee a week perhaps offered by local businesses to encourage people to explore their local shops. For others, it could be a game changer, transforming their lives by enabling them to earn and trade in the same way with the rest of the world. And all while encouraging us to protect the planet and stay healthy."
Imbesi and Bahar have an established record in disruptive technology aimed at assisting developing nations as much as richer ones.
In 2014 in Kenya they launched Keepod, a $7 USB stick that acts like a computer. The Keepod allows many users to use one computer as the technology leaves no footprint on the host computer. User data is protected and no personal information is left behind.