Newlyweds Austin and Beccy Craig will spend the first 90 days of their married life living only on Bitcoins.
The couple is getting married today. As soon as they return from their honeymoon, they will say goodbye to cash and credit cards and attempt to use Bitcoins for everything, including rent, food, bills, and transportation.
Bitcoin is a form of digital currency that uses decentralized peer-to-peer technology to manage transactions and validate payments. It has no governmental backing, and the value is volatile, subject to malware, phishing, and DDoS Attacks. The tech community is excited about the opportunities with Bitcoin, but the currency is far from mainstream. Living on Bitcoin alone would be a challenge for someone living in the heart of Silicon Valley, much less a young couple from Provo, Utah, but that is what the Craigs are trying to do.
Austin said he has been interested in this technology for about a year now, but whenever he talked to someone about it, the first questions were “what can you buy with it?” and “who accepts it?” He approached Beccy with an idea for a project, and she thought it sounded like an adventure. They created a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about their experience and quickly surpassed their $70,000 goal.
“This technology looks really disruptive to me,” Craig said in an interview with VentureBeat. “I think that cutting out the middlemen and creating a more direct way to transfer money, without all the different parties involved in the transaction, ultimately serves the end user a lot better. This project is really about educating people, and I look forward to learning a lot and learning it quick. We are jumping into the deep end here. ”
Online and credit cards transaction involve multiple banks, financial institutions, and fees. Bitcoin challenges that model by enabling people to transact directly with each other, with no fees. This sounds great, but purchasing Bitcoins has not always been easy, and just a few years ago, it was a questionable and uncertain process. VC-backed startups like Coinbase are making the buying, selling, and holding of Bitcoins easier, but that progress is in the online world.
The real challenge for the Craigs will be taking that digital economy and finding ways to extend it into their daily life.
“When we get back from Costa Rica, a film crew is meeting us at the airport and will take away our wallets, debit cards, credit cards, cash, and cellphones,” Austin said. “We will have to start from scratch. I know there is one sandwich shop in my area that accepts it, but beyond that we will have to seek out other businesses that are willing to take Bitcoin. I am afraid of the unknowns. There are so many things I do in everyday life I won’t be able to do, like going down to the corner store to get a snack. I am afraid we might get stranded somewhere or won’t be able to find food.”
Austin works in online video advertising, and Beccy is a graphic designer. Her company has agreed to pay her in Bitcoin, and they are hoping their landlord will agree to accept rent in Bitcoin (or at least wait to kick them out). They will try to minimize the amount of intermediary exchanges and services and focus focus on direct transactions. Life on Bitcoin will start in their hometown, but as the days go by and they get more comfortable with the lifestyle, Austin said they plan to travel and push the limits of what is possible. The whole thing will, of course, be captured on social media.
Austin and Beccy’s project seemed gimmicky to me at first, but ultimately the goal of raising awareness and promoting acceptance of new ideas is something I appreciate. First come the early adopters, and then, perhaps, come the rest.