Move-to-Earn Business Model (M2E): Comprehensive Guide

I. What is Move-to-Earn?

Move-to-Earn (M2E) is an emerging market economy that combines physical exercise and movement with cryptocurrency rewards. M2E platforms leverage blockchain technology, NFTs, and geolocation tracking to incentivize users to engage in physical activity by earning tokens or digital assets. 

- How does it work?

M2E platforms utilize a combination of GPS, tokens on blockchain networks like Solana or Ethereum, NFTs, and gamification elements to track a user's movement and activity. As users walk, run, or engage in other forms of exercise, their movements are recorded and translated into crypto rewards. 

Some platforms take a game-based approach, incorporating real-world fitness into virtual adventures or role-playing games. Others focus exclusively on rewarding daily steps, distance covered, calories burned or participation in fitness challenges. Regardless of the specific implementation, the core idea remains - move more, earn more crypto.

- Key Concepts

Several foundational concepts define the M2E model:

  • Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: Platforms leverage blockchain for transparent, secure tracking and distribution of rewards in the form of tokens.

  • Incentivization: The promise of crypto rewards motivates user participation and engagement through consistent physical activity. 

  • User Data: Movement and biometric data generated while using M2E apps has value and monetization potential.

  • Gamification: Leveling up, quests, competitions etc. enhance the experience and encourage long-term involvement.

  • Digital Ecosystems: M2E exists as a new type of virtual economy where users interact within the platform.

II. History and Emergence of M2E

While the core idea is not new, the M2E movement gained significant momentum in 2022. Early platforms like Lympo awarded tokens for wellness-related behaviors since 2018. However, it wasn't until applications like STEPN launched that mass adoption took off.

STEPN grew a waiting list of over 200,000 users by incentivizing jogging and walking through a "move-to-earn" cryptocurrency model. Its integration of NFT sneakers, RPG-style gameplay, and Social Fi elements proved highly engaging. STEPN's popularity highlighted M2E's potential to merge real-world fitness with virtual economies.

Within months, dozens of M2E projects emerged across multiple blockchain networks. From gamified running apps to virtual pet trainers, the space evolved quickly. M2E demonstrated how crypto could disrupt traditional wellness industries while giving birth to a new type of participatory virtual economy.

III. Principles of the M2E Business Model

- Incentivization

Users are motivated to participate through the promise of crypto rewards for physical activity or gameplay. Maintaining engagement requires consistent, appealing incentives over the long run.

- Blockchain Technology

M2E platforms rely on blockchain ledgers for transparent, verifiable distribution of rewards. This builds trust while enabling integrations like NFT items and transferable assets.

- Community Building

Focusing on community fosters loyalty, collaboration and competition. Social elements are important for onboarding, retention and reaching critical mass.

- Gamification

Game mechanics, quests, leveling up, leaderboards and more turn fitness into an entertaining game. This approach aims to make exercise feel less like a chore.

- Data Generation

As a side effect of participation, M2E results in valuable user data around behaviors, biometrics and psychology. This data creates new business opportunities.

IV. M2E Business Model Examples

  • STEPN (Crypto Running App)

Built on the energy-efficient Solana blockchain, STEPN is one of the most well-known M2E platforms. It functions like a fitness app that rewards exercise via crypto. Users purchase sneaker NFTs representing different rarity levels and attributes. Each sneaker has a type (jogger, runner, etc), base stats and socket slots for upgrading.

By going for daily walks and runs tracked through GPS, players earn STEPN's GFP token as well as in-game energy used to level up sneakers. Additional features like Social Fi allow matching with friends, trading resources and competing in challenges. Users stake their sneakers to earn more tokens passively. The platform has grown a thriving economy around sneaker breeding, trading, marketplace and more.

  • Genopets (Virtual Pet Trainer)

Genopets is a unique M2E experience focused on training and evolving virtual pets/spirits called Genopets. Players purchase Genopet NFTs with randomized attributes and DNA. By engaging in regular physical activity, meditating, learning and participating socially, trainers progress their Genopets through various evolutionary stages.

Higher activity levels directly strength Genopets' power in turn-based battles and mini-games. Players can breed Genopets to create new DNA combinations. An engaging social element allows interactions like gifting items or battling friends. The model seamlessly merges real health with value accrual in a digital pet world.

  • The Dustland (Audio Fitness RPG) 

Set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, The Dustland advances an immersive narrative through running. Players embark on missions tracking their actual distance covered. An augmented reality audio format puts users directly in the story.

Along the way, players find and collect resources strengthening their survivor character. Additional elements include base-building, crafting, trading and factions. Running productivity ties to in-game progression, rewarding persistent real-world exercise. The dystopian setting and social ties create motivation to push physical limits.

  • Lympo (Wellness Tokens)

As one of the earliest platforms since 2018, Lympo pioneered the M2E model by issuing its native LYM tokens for healthy behaviors. The app integrates with wearables and mobile sensors to attribute rewards based on steps, distance, active minutes, sleep patterns and other biometrics.

Users stake their LYM to participate in wellness missions and community competitions. Lympo aimed to promote long-term behavior change through gradual habit-forming and gamified elements. Its early focus on multi-dimensional wellness metrics established M2E foundations beyond just exercise tracking.

V. Key Benefits of M2E Models

- User Engagement

The core promise of earning cryptocurrency for being active highly engages users from the start. By creating a positive reinforcement feedback loop and implementing behavioral nudges, M2E platforms can promote long-term involvement through the formation of new healthy habits over time. Regular rewards help users stick to fitness routines in a fun, intrinsically motivating way.

- Community Growth

M2E fosters strong social elements and network effects. As more users participate, they recruit friends and family via leaderboards, challenges and teams. Players also interact through trading, discussing and competing. These dynamics fuel rapid growth as the value of platforms increases with their user bases. Social accountability further encourages exercise adherence.

- Valuable Data

A key output of the M2E experience is the continuous stream of granular data users generate about their behaviors, biometrics and locations over long periods. When anonymized and aggregated, this offers insights into human performance and health with commercial applications. M2E platforms can leverage data assets to develop new predictive tools, research partnerships and digital therapeutics.

- Monetization Pathways

Built-in token economies and marketplaces open multiple avenues for monetizing M2E. Platforms can generate revenue through in-app purchases, subscription services, transaction fees, premium features, sponsor integrations, partnership integrations and secondary NFT/token marketplaces. This facilitates self-sustaining models where value capture supports further platform and community development.

VI. Challenges for M2E Platforms

- Sustainability

Maintaining long-term user engagement and retention is challenging. Reward rates and structures need fine-tuning over time based on behavioral data to prevent inflation while keeping users motivated. Platforms must also consider evolving to focus beyond short-term rewards to intrinsic motivations for exercise. This requires nuanced tokenomics design and gameplay systems thinking.

- Regulation

The regulatory landscape around crypto assets remains complex, varying globally. M2E platforms must thoughtfully assess compliance in areas like securities regulation, data privacy, medical claims, consumer protection and taxation on an ongoing basis. Ensure guidance and approvals are in place before large-scale operations.

- Competition

As the sector matures, platforms face growing competitive pressures to continually improve utility, expand diverse features, support interoperability and differentiate offerings through innovative mechanics or partnership integrations. Sustaining product evolution post-seed funding poses challenges. Community feedback must be incorporated rapidly for platforms.

- Adoption Barriers

Accessing broader audiences requires lowering barriers like device/data costs which deter some. M2E also demands cryptocurrency familiarity. Designing intuitive mobile-first flows, onboarding guides, localized adaptations and subsidies could aid adoption in more regions. Collabs with health tech firms may expose M2E to new user populations as well.


1. Is M2E just a fad or does it have real sustainability potential?

- If platforms can foster intrinsic motivations for exercise over time, move user focus beyond earnings potential, and build diverse economies, then M2E may successfully integrate fitness into people's daily lives. However, speculative behaviors currently pose risks.

2. Are there health concerns with "gamifying" exercise?

- Some experts warn that an over-emphasis on rewards could undermine natural motivations for wellness. Platforms aiming for sustainability likely need approaches balancing entertainment, community and long-term health goals. Data privacy is also a concern.

3. What barriers does M2E face in terms of adoption and accessibility?

- Upfront hardware costs, understanding blockchains, regular mobile data use and an emphasis on monetization over accessibility could exclude some. For sustainability, projects must consider strategies for lowering these barriers, especially in developing areas where health impacts could be highest.


The M2E model presents an intriguing merger of crypto with wellness that has seen rapid early growth. However, questions remain around its long-term viability and health impacts depending on how systems evolve. Platforms showing strong, balanced motivations and accessible designs will likely determine whether M2E becomes a sustainable part of preventative healthcare or remains a speculative trend. With refinement, it shows potential to positively disrupt traditional fitness while establishing new virtual economies worldwide.

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