Not content with gamers capturing digital monsters, Niantic Labs, the company behind Pokemon GO, is taking things to a new level: enabling Fold app users to catch Bitcoin rewards.
Niantic Labs has partnered with Fold, the company behind the Bitcoin rewards app of the same name, to launch Fold AR, an augmented reality (AR) experience on the Fold mobile app. Instead of hunting for rare creatures, Fold app users will find and collect Bitcoin and other prizes by exploring the world around them.
Niantic previously released an AR app, called Reality Blending, for the smash hit Pokemon GO. The game's players use their mobile phones' cameras to project images of Pokemon into a real-world environment. Fold CEO Will Reeves says Fold users will have a similar experience but instead find different kinds of Bitcoin rewards instead of monsters.
"Initially, you can earn sats [the smallest denomination of Bitcoin], but you can also earn spins, which allows you to earn even more Bitcoin via the Fold app," Reeves told Decrypt in an email. Based on a demo video shared by Fold, these rewards will appear on screen as 3D coins and other items, which users will find and collect by exploring their own environments.
"Down the line, you will be able to find actual collectibles in the Fold AR experience that endow holders with special privileges, increased earning opportunities, and benefits as well, such as a permanent increase in rewards."
Launched in October 2019, Atlanta, Georgia-based Fold says its current user base is over a quarter million as of 2021. "Nearly half a billion has been transacted via Fold in spend and deposits since launch," Reeves told Decrypt.
Reeves says the initial rollout of Fold AR on November 23 will allow a small number of users to access the beta experience for a limited time each day. Access will increase from November 23 onwards. He went on to say that Fold Visa debit cardholders will be able to collect special rewards and perks like extra spins on the Fold app daily spin wheel that lets users earn higher bonuses and chances at earning higher prizes.
"Fold Cardholders will be able to collect 'spins' within the experience which gives users more chances to earn higher rewards," Reeves says. "After every purchase you make on Fold, users get to spin for an additional prize on top of their 1% base rate."
Launched in 2010 as a Google startup, Niantic Labs says it began with the idea of leveraging mobile devices and maps to create a new form of gameplay that could combine exploration with exercise and real-world social interaction. In 2016, Niantic launched Pokemon Go, which surpassed $5 billion from player in-app spending since its release.
As of July 2021, Niantic's Pokemon GO has been downloaded 632 million times, according to the data analytic site SensorTower.com. Fold likely hopes it will be able to replicate that same type of success with Niantic's help.
If it catches on, the next time you see people walking around, staring at their phones, they may be hunting for Bitcoin.