Exercise all seems rather pointless, doesn’t it? All those reps, all that burn, all that heart-pounding exhaustion—and for what? A stronger “cardiovascular system?” What even is that? Can you trade it as an SEC-registered security?
That’s why, presumably, “50cycles,” a UK-based company that rents out motor-assisted e-bikes, is changing the fitness game so you can get a little more bang for your bike (rides).
E-bikes, which emerged as a “hot trend” in the U.S. in January, are now in the midst of a“major trend” in Europe. (A relative “major trend,” though—75 percent of Brits, for instance, still don’t know what e-bikes are.) And what’s the one thing that could make that trend even trendier?
Enter 50cycles’s new “TOBA” e-bike, which costs £2,595, mines crypto as it putters down the road and hopes to jumpstart a token-based gig economy. That’s right: every 1,000 miles a TOBA cyclist pedals generates a “TOBA” cryptocurrency token. These are technically “pre-mined,” a la Ripple, but are spendable once the bike hits a certain mileage. (Customers also get complementary tokens when they purchase the bike.) Scott Snaith, 50cycles’s CEO, hopes that these will be redeemable on exchanges for Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero and Digibyte.
“The TOBA electric bike utility vehicle, the application and the token—it’s the holy trinity for future autonomous transport theory,” Snaith says, perhaps optimistically. “Build it and they will come.“
In a way, pedaling for cash is akin to bitcoin mining, Snaith points out. But instead of “proof-of-work,” it’s basically “proof of exercise.” Presumably, it’s even harder to fake 1,000 miles of cycling than it is to fake, say, the hashing calculations needed for Bitcoin mining. Unless Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas is in your Life Debt, you’ll have to complete those money-spinning miles yourself.
The fun, as always, ends after a set limit. Riders can profit from 10,000 miles max. The TOBA token pipeline, after this point, will dry up — the bike won’t be able to squirt money out of thin air anymore.
Still, ten tokens sounds like it could be worth a fortune, right? Not exactly. The current price of a token is zero. Snaith says he will “let the market decide” what the token is worth based on its utility. And the utility, Snaith explains, will derive from the tokens’ use as a “community” coin.
On yer bike
The hope is that people in local communities will be able to pay TOBA-mining bike riders in TOBA tokens to perform any services they can think of—messenger services, say, or maybe a TOBA-mining rickshaw passenger service.
But wait, there’s more: the TOBA bike happens to also be a crypto wallet into which funds can be deposited and withdrawn by anyone with a public key; the public key is inscribed on the bike itself, for the community to make payments. This, Snaith hopes, will create an “Uber” style gig economy, yet with the cyclists themselves taking the full profit, without any middlemen—including Snaith himself—taking a slice for themselves.
Snaith hopes 50cycles will soon be able to do away with pesky fiat profits altogether. "We aim to make the brand completely bankless one day," he says. To encourage the token's spread, 100 are dispensed automatically to first-time buyers of the TOBA e-bike.
One can then give these tokens to, say, the old lady down the road in exchange for “services,” Snaith suggests. Why, with the TOBA-mining TOBA e-bike, one can provide relief to “people at four in the morning who need a bottle of champagne,” he adds. “The Toba community could be your local plumber or a [cigarette] lighter delivery at 4am for a tenner.”
The picture Snaith paints, with his repeated use of the word “village,” invokes the small-town, communal, Postman Pat-esque age when local folks helped each other out. When uncle Keith came round to plaster the cracks in Ol’ Phyllis’s dusty broom closet, on the ‘ouse. When our Brian didn’t just play Fortnite all day. When you could say “top of the mornin’” to a stranger and they wouldn’t spit in your face. Bike to the future, indeed.