Experiment: Pay by walking

Over the next few months, we’re running an experiment: You’ll be able to pay for attending our cafés by walking.

From an artistic and technological perspective, the concept of NFTs piqued my interest early on; it’s gimmicky, innovative, and allows you to play around with copyright. The connection with the concept of the détournement, in the sense of the Situationists, something that nowadays would be called ‘remix culture’, is obvious.

NFTs, Non-fungible tokens, are a kind of unique piece (let’s say ‘art’) for which it’s complete history can always be traced.
Except, if you read up on how NFTs actually work, they aren’t; NFTs are not the work they represent, they are, essentially, individual URLs, pointing to the work they represent, meaning that, in practice, they only add an impractical layer to a framework that was not in search of a new solution which doesn’t solve a problem.

Very much related, as NFTs are connected to ‘the blockchain’, and thus ‘crypto’, they are pushed and promoted as a scam, in the same way that every crypto currency is a scam.

It is no surprise, the imagination of scammers is boundless, that several scammers have tried to connect ‘walking’ with the generation of cryptocurrency. These are, as per the above, scams.

However, there is at least one alternative; a platform that allows you to collect what they call W$, essentially points for going for a walk, or run, and to trade these W$ with others, without being ‘crypto’ itself.
The platform is still quite immature, specifically around the handling of payments, but it’s useable enough for us to run an experiment with. The platform is called Bitwalking, and is currently available, only for iOS, that is, Apple phones.

For the next few months, you can collect W$ by going for a walk, and you can trade those W$ for tickets to our cafés.

As a bold move, the people behind Bitwalking have assigned monetary value to W$, but this is a completely meaningless valuation; How much is walking 100 meters worth?

For our cafés, at the moment, we ask 10W$ for a ticket.

Here’s how you participate:

  1. Download the Bitwalking app, and sign up.
  2. You get a ‘Bitwalking ID’. It looks like this: WALK054376498235.
    Log in, on this website, edit your profile, and add this Bitwalking ID to your profile.
  3. Collect W$ by walking (while taking your phone with you, or just your Apple Watch).
  4. Find one of our upcoming cafés, which accepts W$ for purchasing tickets.
  5. Follow the instructions on how to transfer W$.
  6. Wait a bit (up to 48 hours) and get issued a ticket.

The Bitwalking platform has a number of limitations, specifically around the automation of handling transactions. This means that we need some time to confirm transactions and, sadly, this can also mean that transactions might not always ‘just’ work, requiring manual intervention, or sometimes failing altogether.

If this experiment tuns out to be successful, we’ll extend it, in the expectation that Bitwalking will resolve its current shortcomings.

Let us know what you think, and, keep walking.

Babak Fakhamzadeh


Babak was working in ICT4D before it had a name (2001), never really left it, and knows how to throw together a pretty mean combination of a wide array of programming languages, both frontend and backend. He brought photomarathons to Africa (2007) and won ...

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