W Foundation is an international foundation selected as a designated donation organisation by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of South Korea (W Foundation 2019). The Foundation is one of the partners of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Climate Neutral Now Initiative (W Foundation 2019). The Foundation has been cooperating with governments, companies and organisations from all around the world since 2012 to execute environmental protection projects. Launched in late 2018, the HOOXI App is a part of W Foundation’s HOOXI Campaign aimed at increasing public awareness towards environmental protection and encouraging an eco-friendly lifestyle through monetary and competitive incentives.
Although the importance of environmental protection is duly emphasized in school curriculums and government statements in South Korea, two difficulties emerge when it comes to encouraging actual citizen participation in environmental protection. The first is the lack of priority placed on environmental protection when compared with other policy goals. According to a 2019 survey, only 7.9% of the respondents noted that ‘environmental protection of urban and rural areas’ should constitute the nation’s top policy priority for the next 10 years, in contrast with 53.5% for ‘high speed economic growth’ and 20.3% for ‘increase of national security’ (Korea Institute of Public Administration 2020). Similarly, in 2018, 70.3% of respondents noted that they made little to no effort in preventing environmental pollution (Statistics Korea 2018). The second difficulty is that those who do want to contribute to environmental protection lack guidance on where to start, as discovered by the W Foundation (Heo 2018). Thus, to address both issues, there was a need for a user-friendly guide on how to pursue an eco-friendly lifestyle, with some financial incentives attached.
The HOOXI App generates a list of daily life “missions” to complete, customised based on the user’s age, gender, occupation and lifestyle patterns (Heo 2018). These missions consist of eco-friendly lifestyle choices, ranging from common examples such as “Use a mug instead of a paper cup” or “Carry your own grocery bag to the supermarket” to oft-overlooked energy conservation opportunities such as “Spread aluminium foil in the fridge” (Heo 2018). Once completed, users may then take a picture and upload it onto the app (Heo 2018). The app not only allows users to re-assess their unconscious habits in light of their environmental impact, but also gives them a channel to engage in friendly competition with their friends and even generate a small income. Users living in the same district or working in the same company may combine their points to climb up the rankings board (Heo 2018). Users with a monthly score in the highest 20% may use their accumulated points-converted cryptocurrency (“W Green Pay”) to shop on the HOOXI online mall (W Foundation 2019). W Green Pay is also listed and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges including the GDAC Exchange and Huobi Korea (W Foundation 2019). W Foundation noted that they aimed to expand the usage of W Green Pay to outlets such as Starbucks, iTunes, Amazon and more (SBSCNBC 2018). In this way, the HOOXI App reframes the conversation around environmental protection in terms of small, fun, educational opportunities in daily life. The English version of the app was launched in June 2019 (UNFCCC 2019).
As of December 2018, the HOOXI App has been downloaded by more than 100,000 users on the Apple App Store, ranking third total (SBSCNBC 2018). Users have commended the app’s innovative intersection between environmental production and income generation, and recommended the app as a useful tool for those who are unsure how to contribute to environmental protection (WJaedan2020; HOOXI App! 2020).The HOOXI App also managed to attract interest in neighbouring China. Wanda Mall, the world’s largest cinema chain, agreed to accept W Green Pay as a method of payment, and the W Foundation is cooperating with the Lai Wu City government (in the Shandong Province) to launch a Chinese version for the HOOXI app (Lee 2018; Oh 2018).
Heo, J. (2018). Block Interview: Hwangyeong sallineun ‘chakhan blockchain…ongukmini hwangyeong jikimi [블록人터뷰: 환경 살리는 ‘착한 블록체인’…온국민이 환경지킴이] [Online]. Available at: https://www.fnnews.com/news/201808011651133226 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Korea Institute of Public Administration (2020). Hyanghu 10nyungan i-ruoyahal gukga mokpyo [향후 10 년간 우선적으로 이뤄야할 국가목표] [Online]. Available at: https://kosis.kr/statHtml/statHtml.do?orgId=417&tblId=DT_417001_0016&conn_path =I2 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Lee, S.Y. (2018). W Jaedan-Joongguk Wanda Group hyupryuk chaegyul…yeongil wanda baekhwajeom-aeseo WGP gyeoljae ganeunghae [W 재단-중국 완다그룹 협력 체결…연길완다백화점에서 WGP 결제 가능해] [Online]. Available at: https://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2018111210064859612 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Oh, S.J. (2018). W Jaedan, Joongguk Sandoongseong Laiwusiwa sonjabgo Joonggukpan HOOXI App gaebalhanda [W 재단, 중국 산둥성 라이우시와 손잡고 중국판 후시(HOOXI)앱 개발한다] [Online]. Available at: http://www.viva100.com/main/view.php?key=20181116001012505 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
SBSCNBC (2018). W Jaedan-eui ‘HOOXI App’, Apple App Store 10man download dolpa [W 재단의 ‘후시 (HOOXI) 앱’, 애플 앱스토어 10 만 다운로드 돌파] [Online]. Available at: https://cnbc.sbs.co.kr/article/10000925638?division=NAVER (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Statistics Korea (2018). Hwangyeong-oyeom bangji noryuk (jayeonboho mit hwangyongbojeon hwaldong chamyeohagi, 13sae yisang ingu [환경오염 방지 노력UID: 3035361570 14 (자연보호 및 환경보전활동 참여하기, 13 세 이상 인구)] [Online]. Available at: https://kosis.kr/statHtml/statHtml.do?orgId=101&tblId=DT_1SSEN077R&conn_path= I2 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
UNFCCC (2019). Taking Climate Action Via a Gaming App [Online]. Available at: https://unfccc.int/news/taking-climate-action-via-a-gaming-app (Accessed: 4 November 2020).
Unknown (2020). HOOXI App! W Jaedan HOOXI Water-wah hamgaehaneun hwangyeongboho~ [후시앱! W 재단 후시워터와 함께하는 환경보호~] [Online]. Available at: https://blog.naver.com/tara5415/221861980613 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Unknown (2020). W Jaedan HOOXI App, HOOXI Water hwangyeong-eul wheehan saeob-ae dongchamhaeyo [W 재단 후시앱, 후시 워터 환경을 위한 사업에 동참해요] [Online]. Available at: https://blog.naver.com/hyeju0831/221876549624 (Accessed: 4 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
W Foundation (2019). HOOXI App & HOOXI Mall Officially Launched! [Online]. Available at: https://www.gcrfund.org/en/hooxi-app-2/?ckattempt=1 (Accessed: 4 November 2020).