Crypto-based emergency app Guardian Circle has seen a huge surge in monthly downloads due to the coronavirus crisis.
According to figures supplied by the project to Cointelegraph, more than 5150 new users downloaded the app in March. That represents monthly growth of 2582% for the three year old app, which had struggled to attract attention in peacetime. In January, a little over 300 new users signed up.
But while the current crisis has seen the app’s popularity increase, it’s also threatening the project’s future.
What is Guardian Circle?
The official website explains the app helps create a micro-economy around an emergency response in regions where it is needed most. Functions include panic buttons, crash detection, voice interfaces and heart rate monitors,among others, enabling private security and medical response to control a geo-fenced service area as well. Users are incentivised with rewards in the cryptocurrency $GUARD.
Mark Jeffrey, co-founder and CEO of Guardian Circle, told Cointelegraph:
“Up until COVID-19, our marketing challenge had always been: 'How do we get users to think about a future crisis situation'? People don't like thinking about emergencies: it's not fun. It's not 'Words With Friends' or 'TikTok'. With COVID-19, that challenge has now vanished.”
Jeffrey said that emergency apps are not used daily and so the cryptocurrency element helps keep it in users’ minds: “The $GUARD crypto was a non-crisis-related-way to interact with our users.”
But while the health emergency has increased downloads, the economic effects of the crisis are threatening its viability.
“As our runway has always been based in crypto, our piles of Bitcoin and NEO have depleted in value with the COVID-19 crashes. I’ve been supplementing corporate expenses with my own personal money to cover costs. Bottom line? We have about six months left as we are right now, barring any new curve balls thrown at us.”
More partnerships underway
Looking ahead, Jeffrey said the project had found a partner, with whom they will sign a deal to run a combined product, which will hopefully enable them to attract new venture capital interest.
On their users’ geographic distribution, Jeffrey said that one third are in the US, the rest are scattered throughout the world. Also, the app has high concentrations in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Brazil, Egypt, and Iraq.
Jeffrey believes that overall the current crisis will be positive for cryptocurrency:
“The COVID-19 crisis is causing tremendous strain on the legacy banking system worldwide — far worse than the 2008 crisis. This strain has not yet been felt by the average person, but it will be in the coming months. At that point, we may see a sharp increase in usage of Bitcoin as a store of value. We may also see other cryptos come into use for cash-like faster, smaller payments.”
Other blockchain-based apps used in the midst of COVID-19 crisis
Cointelegraph reported on April 6 that a blockchain app called “Civitas” has been released by the Canada-based startup Emerge, which looks forward to tracking COVID-19 cases and it’s focused in Latin America region.