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China tech

China fitness scandal throws light on blockchain scams

Quickly built apps like Qubu draw users with promise of cash

Amid a top-down push in China to embrace blockchain technology, experts say it is being used as a buzzword to draw people into scams. (Nikkei illustration)

BEIJING -- Qubu is a Chinese fitness app that started users off with a simple task: walk 4,000 steps a day for 45 days. If they managed to stay active in that month and a half, they received 15 "candies" -- Qubu's in-app virtual currency.

Candies could be traded in to unlock more complex tasks that carried higher rewards or exchanged for real-world cash. In documents seen by KrASIA, Qubu's candies were marketed as wealth management instruments that carried up to 36.8% return on investment over 60 days. It was also strongly suggested that anyone who used the app should recruit a "downline" -- a network marketing term for someone you bring to the app, earning commission along the way. You could thus earn passive income without putting in any extra work, according to the logic.

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