A so-called “epidemic of loneliness” is sweeping through people, no doubt exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—enough so that the U.S. Surgeon General recently called out the impact of isolation and deteriorating relationships on adults. Could Web3 somehow help reverse the trend and play a part in facilitating more real-world connections?

That’s the aim of PairedWorld, a new crypto-fueled project developed by a collective of health experts and technologists. It aims to incentivize human bonds and interactions through a Web3 framework and associated Ethereum-based token, effectively putting a new kind of spin on the “social token” concept. 

“The key to health and happiness boils down to one incredibly simple but profoundly powerful thing, and that’s good relationships,” Unpaired co-founder and CEO Raluca Cherciu tells Decrypt.

Screenshots from the PairedWorld app. Image: PairedWorld

Revealed at the Non Fungible Conference (NFC) today in Lisbon, PairedWorld is driven by Unpaired—which is connected to the existing Party Degens NFT project—with help from Horizen Lab Ventures and NFT Studios.

The creators say they aren’t trying to create a new community around PairedWorld, but rather “add value to existing communities and give them partial ownership of this new PairedWorld ecosystem,” explains Cherciu. “It’s an alliance.” 

Existing NFT owners from a variety of established communities will be able to join the PairedWorld ecosystem, where they will also be given a soulbound token called SOUL that acts as a “reputation signaling device.” The unique ecosystem spans multiple blockchains and numerous communities, in a bid to help break down divides between tribalist NFT cliques. 

Depending on how long a user has held their NFT and how active they’ve been in the accompanying community, they will also be rewarded with PairedWorld’s ticket tokens. These tokens will be distributed regularly and will allow users to attend physical world events—or, if their reputation is high enough and their identity has been confirmed via a verified social media profile, create their own events.

“There’s something truly remarkable about the power of human connection, and that invisible bond that makes us feel understood, valued, and part of something bigger than ourselves,” starts Cherciu. “Our ultimate goal is to facilitate, reward, and incentivize these meaningful interactions, and to build an ecosystem where genuine profound relationships really flourish.”


However, as the project was developed, the PairedWorld alliance knew that it was important to offer more “tangible, immediate incentives”—which is where the PAIRED token comes in.

Attending events will reward users with PAIRED, an ERC-20 token that can be traded on a decentralized exchange for other cryptocurrencies, or a local currency of their choice.

Developed over the past 18 months, PairedWorld—which is a non-profit organization based on Zug, Switzerland—said that it has worked with top neuroscientists and psychologists to ensure they incentivize the “right behavior.” The more that people participate in their own NFT communities or the PairedWorld ecosystem, the higher their reputation level and the more rewards they’ll be eligible for.

“We have a lot of mechanisms in place to incentivize people to stay engaged and work towards the good of the ecosystem,” says Cherciu.

Cherciu told Decrypt that real-world events could include anything from meeting up at a concert to simply going for dinner with other PairedWorld members, with a mobile app designed to register attendance and track the length of the event. In the future, the initiative will look at rewarding online community activity. But for now, the focus is on real-world connections.

The idea for PairedWorld came about over COVID-enforced lockdowns when Web3 enabled “a collaborative, optimistic environment that allowed people to create communities without borders,” says Cherciu. “It offered people this feeling of comfort and hope.”

Some communities have struggled to weather the ups and downs of the NFT market, however, as speculation, price fluctuations, and the prevalence of scams have battered token-driven groups. Cherciu is unwavering in her belief that tokens can be used to drive meaningful benefits for people, however, adding that “no one should really feel alone in this vast digital world.”

PairedWorld points to studies to support its broader aims, including the aforementioned “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” from the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, which suggests that social existence has broadly become more isolated over the past few decades. Elsewhere, an 85-year-long study conducted by Harvard University revealed that close relationships are the primary factor in helping people live longer, happier lives.


Author and professor Paul J. Zak, co-founder of Immersion Neuroscience and contributor to PairedWorld, says in a statement provided to Decrypt that “the quality of your relationships” is one of four things that will “increase the quality and length of your life”—along with the usual suspects of sleep, diet, and exercise.

“Diet, exercise and sleep are easy to manage and measure. What's difficult is the quality of our social relationships,” he says. “Actually having high-quality relationships will lengthen your life more than quitting smoking. We have to actually go to events, have experiences, and connect to people. Technology is increasingly helping us do that.”

As Web3 users seek to find and foster authentic communities, the idea of another token is sure to face skepticism—especially as the “when token?” and “number go up” mentalities remain prevalent in crypto spaces. But PairedWorld believes it can utilize the tech to create a net positive… via positive connections between people.

“Though the digital revolution has ushered in an era of unparalleled global accessibility and knowledge exchange, it's an ironic twist of fate that it has also contributed to heightened feelings of isolation among individuals,” says Cherciu. “This paradox is what we aim to address at PairedWorld.”

“We’re all united by the shared goal of proving that emerging technology can actually be harnessed for positive social impact, and ultimately enhancing the quality of lives of individuals and communities worldwide,” she adds. “This is a huge opportunity to use technology to revolutionize how we form and deepen human connection.”

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