Move-to-earn business model

Move-to-earn (M2E) is a market economy that combines physical exercise with NFTs and geo-location technology.

Understanding move-to-earn

Move-to-earn is a derivative of the popular play-to-earn system where users are paid in cryptocurrency for playing certain games such as Axie Infinity and Splinterlands. 

Move-to-earn is not a new idea, with early platforms such as Lympo awarding users with LYM tokens for embodying a healthy lifestyle.

However, the move-to-earn movement has taken off in 2022 with over 200,000 people on the waiting list to join the popular fitness app STEPN.

In essence, move-to-earn is a system that rewards individuals for moving their bodies with cryptocurrency.

Most move-to-earn platforms use a combination of GPS, NFTs, blockchain, and GameFi technology to track user movements and rewards.

Move-to-earn applications

While the central premise of move-to-earn is to collect rewards from moving around, there are several ways this system can be set up.

Some platforms incorporate exercise into RPGs so that real-world fitness has implications for adventures in virtual worlds. Players can also level up their battle avatars in these worlds by remaining active.

Other platforms allow users to enter into competitions against family, friends, or randoms from around the world.

Players enter into 1-on-1 contests to complete a predetermined task with each player placing a stake in the winner’s pot. The winner, who is adjudicated by an AI tracking tool, then collects the prize.

More traditional move-to-earn apps focus exclusively on exercise. The more one moves around in the real world, the more in-game tokens they collect. Some of these apps also allow for NFT minting, trading, and staking.

Move-to-earn games

Let’s conclude this article by taking a look at three move-to-earn games.


Built on the Solana blockchain, STEPN is a Web 3 lifestyle app that incorporates elements of game-fi and social-fi.

To play, users must purchase an NFT sneaker that best suits their fitness level before they can start earning crypto from walking, jogging, or running.

STEPN is backed by investors such as Binance, Sequoia Capital, and Folius Ventures.

The Dustland

The Dustland is the world’s first move-to-earn audio fitness blockchain game.

Players move through the fictional post-apocalyptic Dustland narrative by running in the real world and are rewarded for mission completion with Ethereum-based token DOSE and NFTs.

Collected items and resources can be used to upgrade a player’s avatar to improve their stats and undertake more risky missions that attract more significant rewards.


Genopets is one of the more interesting takes on move-to-earn.

The Solana blockchain-based game requires players to move around in real life to level up a digital spirit animal known as a Genopet.

Players are rewarded for exercising their mind, body, and spirit which translates to in-game progression across the so-called “Genoverse”.

As users become fitter and more physically evolved in the real world, their Genopet NFT also becomes more evolved, rare, and valuable.

Players can also battle others through turn-based mini-games that test an individual’s memory, reaction time, and cognition skills.

Is it sustainable?

With the collapse of cryptocurrencies, in 2022, in what has already been labeled as crypto winter, some argue whether models like play-to-earn or move-to-earn sustainable.

In short, the key question here is whether people joining in these platforms are doing it only for speculative reasons (see the value of their token go up) or whether to built-in economics of these platforms make users hooked in the long-run.

The answer between the former and the latter is the difference between a ponzi scheme (a scheme that feeds itself based on the new entrants in the scheme) or a new commercial use case for Web3, able to scale.

For that matter, in order to assess whether a project is sustainable, it’s critical to keep an eye on the adoption metric of the platform over time.

In short, if, when the price of the token drops, most users leave, you know that they were there, primarily for speculative reasons.

If, instead,

Key takeaways:

  • Move-to-earn (M2E) is a market economy that combines physical exercise with NFTs and geo-location technology. M2E platforms use a combination of GPS, NFTs, blockchain, and GameFi technology to track user movements and rewards.
  • Some M2E platforms equate real-world physical activity with progression through a digital world, while others are more focused on 1-on-1 competitions or the minting, trading, and staking of NFTs.
  • Three move-to-earn platforms with somewhat different approaches to the model include STEPN, The Dustland, and Genopets.

Read Next: Play-to-earn.

Connected Business Concepts

Blockchain Economics

According to Joel Monegro, a former analyst at USV (a venture capital firm) the blockchain implies value creation in its protocols. Where the web has allowed the value to be captured at the applications layer (take Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many others). In a Blockchain Economy, this value might be captured by the protocols at the base of the blockchain (for instance Bitcoin and Ethereum). However, according to blockchain investor Paivinen due to ease of forking, incentives to compete and improved interoperability and interchangeability also in a blockchain-based economy, protocols might get thinner. Although the marginal value of scale might be lower compared to a web-based economy, where massive scale created an economic advantage. The success of the Blockchain will depend on its commercial viability!

Proof of Stake

A Proof of Stake (PoS) is a form of consensus algorithm used to achieve agreement across a distributed network. As such it is, together with Proof of Work, among the key consensus algorithms for Blockchain protocols (like the Ethereum’s Casper protocol). Proof of Stake has the advantage of security, reduced risk of centralization, and energy efficiency.

Proof of Work

A Proof of Work is a form of consensus algorithm used to achieve agreement across a distributed network. In a Proof of Work, miners compete to complete transactions on the network, by commuting hard mathematical problems (i.e. hashes functions) and as a result they get rewarded in coins.

Blockchain Business Models

A Blockchain Business Model according to the FourWeekMBA framework is made of four main components: Value Model (Core Philosophy, Core Values and Value Propositions for the key stakeholders), Blockchain Model (Protocol Rules, Network Shape and Applications Layer/Ecosystem), Distribution Model (the key channels amplifying the protocol and its communities), and the Economic Model (the dynamics/incentives through which protocol players make money). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build and analyze a solid Blockchain Business Model.

Ethereum Blockchain

Ethereum was launched in 2015 with its cryptocurrency, Ether, as an open-source, blockchain-based, decentralized platform software. Smart contracts are enabled, and Distributed Applications (dApps) get built without downtime or third-party disturbance. It also helps developers build and publish applications as it is also a programming language running on a blockchain.

Graph Token

The Graph is an ERC20 Utility Token (built on top of Ethereum) to enable consumers to freely query the blockchain through a fully decentralized database kept by indexers, incentivized by the payment of tokens (called GRT). The network is also ministered by curators and delegators that help maintain a high-quality index.


Uniswap is a renowned decentralized crypto exchange created in 2018 and based on the Ethereum blockchain, to provide liquidity to the system. As a cryptocurrency exchange technology that operates on a decentralized basis. The Uniswap protocol inherited its namesake from the business that created it — Uniswap. Through smart contracts, the Uniswap protocol automates transactions between cryptocurrency tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.


In essence, Polkadot is a cryptocurrency project created as an effort to transform and power a decentralized internet, Web 3.0, in the future. Polkadot is a decentralized platform, which makes it interoperable with other blockchains.


Solana is a blockchain network with a focus on high performance and rapid transactions. To boost speed, it employs a one-of-a-kind approach to transaction sequencing. Users can use SOL, the network’s native cryptocurrency, to cover transaction costs and engage with smart contracts.

Read Next: Proof-of-stakeProof-of-workBitcoinEthereumBlockchain.

Connected Business Model Types

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Marketplace Business Models

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.


A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Open Source vs. Freemium

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

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