We spoke with the co-creator of Macadam, the app that gives you money for walking

We live in a world where if an app is free, it’s most likely tied to a subscription. Everything costs money, and in the App Store that expression is very clear. Any app that promises to give you money is usually mistrusted, but there are some exceptions.

Macadam, an application that wants to give you money for walking, is one of those exceptions. You might raise an eyebrow reading this, but they’ve found a way to do just that while also finding a way to hold on.

Solving lifestyle and, by the way, that of whoever wants

Benjamin Daudignac, co-founder of Macadam.

The objective of Macadam, according to what we read in its official websiteis end sedentary lifestyle. A noble goal, which Apple also pursues with its Fitness applications and all the activities on the Apple Watch, but the incentive to give you money is always what attracts attention.

Benjamin Daudignac, one of the three founders of the company, tells us that the idea came to them when they were working in a startup which forced them to have a very high work rate. That led to a very sedentary life:

We did not do sports, we traveled by scooter and they brought us food every day. Our lifestyle was clearly sedentary and we thought there had to be a technological approach to help people adopt a more active lifestyle.”

That led them to create Macadam to promote an exercise that everyone can do: walking. And with the best motivator of all: money. This has led them to grow to a million registered users, 200,000 of them connecting several times a day and with some “very addicted” according to Benjamin.

macadam iphone

The general operation of Macadam is simple. After registering (you can do it through Sign in With Apple to anonymize your account), the application records your steps that you can exchange for virtual currencies, or ‘coins’. Those coins are redeemable for various “prizes”:

  • Cash transferred to your bank account
  • Discounts at some stores that have partnered with the app
  • A donation in your name to a charitable project, such as planting trees.

There are some options that increase the number of points you can earn, such as watching a 30-second ad or turning on app notifications. There is also a certain level of gamification: you earn extra coins if you redeem steps three days in a row, if you follow Macadam’s Instagram account, or if you do so after a certain time. There is also no lack of the function to communicate with friends and compete to see who walks the most.

You are not going to become a millionaire walking, but with time you will be able to take something to the health of the app

Anyway do not expect to earn a salary with this: my own tests have made walking 40 minutes in a day generate me approximately 50 coins. In order to receive the minimum money transfer (which I haven’t reached yet) you need to accumulate 30,000 coins. For what I’m doing I would need between 30 or 40 days to achieve it.

Still, let’s not underestimate those transfers either: in a month you may be walking enough to earn money to dine out. It’s something. And if you are ambitious you can always accumulate the 300,000 coins that are needed to get refurbished AirPods 3.

Where does Macadam get the money to do this? Well devoting a portion of their ad revenue to that, thanks to the ads that appear in the application. Ads that, by the way, are not intrusive or interrupt the use of the interface unless you expressly request it to redeem extra coins.

Benjamin assures us that they wouldn’t mind if competing apps appeared, because that business model is not harmed by rivals. If another app appears that gives you money for walking, users will use both Macadam and that other app in order to earn more money. And the same with Apple, which could launch a similar function but offer free months to its subscription services as a prize. The more the better.

The future of Macadam involves talking about more integrations, as Benjamin tells us:

We are hoping to have a larger user base, but we hope to work with insurance companies and governments by 2024. (…) Over time, we want to become the first social app that gets its users off the couch.

They do not lack ambition: they want to go beyond the million registered users they have today to 10 million before 2024. And in a period of five years they want to multiply by 10 again to reach 100 million registered users. Making these figures is frankly difficult and there are reasons not to be optimistic, but who knows if money as an attraction can do it.

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In my experience, Macadam is one of those apps that you can have installed out of the way, inside an apps folder. With a simple daily consultation to redeem your steps, you can accumulate some money, and even if they are small amounts, they can always end up becoming a small prize for having maintained a good step routine. In other words: get the virtual medals of the Apple Fitness application to taste little. You can download macadam free on the App Store.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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