Running game StepN blocks Chinese users

  StepN, the app that started the trend of running for money in the world, announced to block Chinese users from mid-July.

According to an announcement on Twitter over the weekend, StepN will "start checking and wiping" users in the world's most populous country, based on GPS location and IP address. The discontinuance begins on July 15, and the application representative advises players to "make arrangements" before the above date.

Types of NFT shoes in StepN. Photo: Handout
Types of NFT shoes in StepN. Photo: Handout

StepN did not give a specific reason for the move. According to SCMP, the cause may be due to the cryptocurrency ban in the country. Recently, the Central Bank of China continued to warn that any foreign cryptocurrency exchange that provides services to Chinese citizens is engaging in illegal financial activities.

StepN is a running application to earn (move to earn - M2E) developed by Satoshi Lab and launched late last year. The application is built on the Solana blockchain ecosystem, founded by two Chinese-born entrepreneurs, Jerry Huang and Yawn Rong, currently based in Australia. In the introduction, the development team said that users who own NFT shoes can walk to earn rewards in tokens, as well as use them to buy, sell and upgrade NFT shoe items.

To join StepN, users need to purchase a virtual NFT shoe in the app and start running in real life. The amount of money earned each day depends on the type of shoes owned and mobility skills. To increase the amount of money collected, users can level up, repair shoes or use gems to upgrade attributes. On average, new players need 1,000 USD in exchange value to be able to buy shoes and start earning.

According to Rong shared in April with SCMP, the company made $20 million in the first quarter of the year, largely from transaction fees and in-game NFT sales. According to estimates on Dune Analytics, StepN currently has more than 580,000 users.

Immediately after the announcement of blocking Chinese users, StepN's governance token GMT dropped 38% from 1.2 USD per coin to 0.8 USD per coin, then back to more than 1 USD. Compared to the peak of $ 3.8 at the end of April, GMT has dropped three times in value.

M2E is a new trend that attracts the attention of the blockchain community after play to earn (P2E - playing games for money) by combining elements of GameFi, SocialFi and NFT. Many M2E projects are springing up like mushrooms, even with variations to entice users.

Many StepN participants expect the application to be a new Axie Infinity of the M2E model. The app not only promotes running, but also spawns many new business models. For example, some even spend money to buy shoes, then hire runners. Those who cannot afford the initial investment can also join the application by running for a rental with a fee of several tens of USD per day.

China has been aggressive with cryptocurrencies since last year. In May 2021, three state-backed financial associations jointly warned of the risks from "volatile" cryptocurrencies. China then carried out a zero-tolerance crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading.

At the end of September 2021, the Central Bank of China warned that anyone in China involved in crypto activities could be investigated. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also added Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies mining to its blacklist of industrial activities that should be eliminated in the country. These harsh measures then triggered a series of compliance moves by crypto-related companies.

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