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Mobile app sMiles launched in 2020 with the promise of letting users “earn Bitcoin for things you already do,” like walking and shopping. But the app has now expanded to encourage users to go beyond the routine, with a Pokémon Go-like map that points you toward real-world locations that can earn you small stashes of Bitcoin.
Bitcoinverse is the latest feature added to the sMiles app on iPhone and Android, and it takes the real-world map of your surroundings and peppers it with secret stashes of satoshis, or the smallest unit of measurement for a Bitcoin (there are 100 million satoshis in 1 BTC). Just follow the big, orange Bitcoin logo and claim the reward once you’re nearby.
Pokémon’s “Gotta catch ‘em all” slogan takes on a different meaning when there’s real Bitcoin at the tail end of your adventure. While the rewards—which are paid out via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network—are likely to be modest, the feature may provide an incentive for sMiles users to get out and explore.
If you have shopped on sMiles before, you can now try out Bitcoinverse!
— sMiles: Bitcoin Rewards ⚡️ (@smilesbitcoin) May 25, 2023
Bitcoinverse is funded by advertisers, who can sponsor locations on the map to get the word out about their business. sMiles co-founder Ig Berezovsky told Decrypt that any sponsor is always clearly identified within the app, which also provides a link to the sponsor’s website.
The feature just recently started rolling out to what Berezovsky said are about 140,000 total sMiles users. For now, the reward locations appear to be concentrated around major cities across the United States and Europe. A look at the U.S. Midwest, for example, shows three locations in downtown Chicago, with one location in downtown Kansas City. That’s all.
But sMiles has plans to expand its functionality over time, with features like in-store deals and surveys on the horizon to provide advertisers deeper engagement with users. The ultimate goal is a self-sustaining ecosystem that rewards players for participating and exploring, while benefiting brands and companies by pointing users in their direction.
“The black box of traditional advertising, where nobody knows what the margins are [and] what does and does not work, will be changed,” Berezovsky told Decrypt. “As people have a natural sense of gratitude, the Bitcoinverse ecosystem strengthens the loyalty bond between brands and customers.”
The sMiles app has gradually expanded since launch, offering users Bitcoin rewards for hitting step goals while walking, buying things from various partnered retailers, and playing simple games like chess through the mobile app.
sMiles isn’t the first app to try and mash up location-based gaming with Bitcoin; rewards app fold launched its own augmented reality (AR) feature in late 2021, using Pokémon Go creator Niantic’s own tech platform to bring the experience to life.
But broadly, sMiles fits within a growing ecosystem of shopping apps, mobile games, and even specialized Bitcoin-infused servers for popular games like Minecraft and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, all aimed at boosting engagement by letting users accumulate bits of Bitcoin while doing… well, “things you already do,” to borrow a slogan.
“We at sMiles strongly believe that Bitcoin is the best loyalty tool possible,” Berezovsky added. “It will never expire, has a deflationary appeal to young and tech-savvy users, and in our case a powerful Lightning Network backend for instant micropayments.”