Thursday, 16 July 2020

Fitness cryptocurrency Vlique lets you earn as you exercise

Cryptocurrency can be off-putting. Amid talk of booms and bubbles, mining and blockchains, laypeople could be forgiven for slightly missing the point.
It can be so cloaked in mystery that it becomes impenetrable and, crucially, detached from the reality of day-to-day transactions.

So there’s a case for fitness app Vlique, which is trying to put it in terms we can actually understand.

“We’re trying to put a nice millennial pink face on cryptocurrency,” says Katie Booth, one of the co-founders of Vlique, on plans to launch Vlique Coin, the “first ever fitness cryptocurrency”.
Simply, Vlique Coin is a reward system: you earn coins by booking classes or PT sessions on the platform, which you can then spend on classes and PT sessions within the platform or on glittering rewards such as activewear and brunches with its lifestyle partners (who in the past have included lululemon and FaceGym).

“It works like cashback, or like a Nectar card,” explains Booth, who worked in fashion retail and millennial marketing before co-founding Vlique in 2015. Last year the Vlique team spent almost 12 months working out of the Technogym wellness accelerator in Milan, which is where the team developed the idea to create a cryptocurrency.

The first iteration of the app launched in June 2016, in London and Leeds, and the team is now back from Milan and working in Kensington. The coin is coming this quarter. Vlique will make an “initial coin offering”, which Booth describes as a “crowdfund for cryptocurrency”. Customers will be invited to “buy in early” by purchasing coins that can be used on the platform.

Once it has coin investors, the platform will use the cryptocurrency for all transactions. Customers will have a wallet for saving and spending coins, and while it will accept payments in sterling, the algorithm will convert it to Vlique Coin on the app, to standardise the currency in operation on the platform. This also means classes cost the same in Vlique Coin as they do in pounds. It’s certainly one way to monetise willpower and get people moving.

Booth says Vlique is, inevitably, targeting the millennial market, the lifestyle generation that spends, collectively, millions on the fitness industry — and who are also more likely to have heard of cryptocurrencies than their elders.

Though it’s still an exercise in demystification. “Up until now crypto has been techie,” says Booth. “This is an exciting time, and it’s exploded over the past few months. People are thinking, ‘I should probably understand it’.”

But SweatCoin works slightly differently. The currency, developed by SweatCo, another London-based company, tracks your steps and rewards you in cryptocurrency that can be spent on rewards within the app such asrainers and Fitbits. The exchange rate is roughly one sweatcoin per 1,000 steps, and you only get them for outdoor steps though, so padding around the house is not a tidy earner.

“The goal with Vlique Coin is to make it simple,” adds Booth. “You don’t have to know about blockchain technology to use it, in the same way you don’t have to know how the internet works to use that.”

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