Amelie Arras used bitcoin exclusively, no intermediaries, in a payments race to promote an industry conference. Competing against four others who also had their own strict payment methods, including gold, Ms. Arras won, showing the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is gaining acceptance as a medium of exchange.
Amelie Arras, Director of Marketing at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Adstra Marketing, logged 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) over two countries and five states, using only bitcoin to survive, winning the annual Money20/20 Payments Race competition.
She competed against four other contestants, including those using payments in gold, the very European chip-and-pin card method, contactless (near-field communication system usually used by smartphone), and cash (mostly one-dollar bills).
Money20/20 is an yearly conference, very well attended, and, when held in the United States, happens late October in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a who-is-who of the payments industry and related companies. The 2017 version managed to generate headlines from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak touting bitcoin over gold, to the Tezos fellows explaining their initial coin offering (ICO) drama, and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s eye-popping ICO announcement of his own.
Cryptocurrencies are clearly beginning to be noticed by the industry at large.
An Unexpected Turn of Events
Attendees and the curious followed Amelie over the week, as her updated Tweets and video logs recounted the various US cities she was in and the tasks given her each day.
It was not easy.
As well-known as bitcoin is among the technical crowds in various countries, the cryptocurrency is still being discovered by the vast majority of people and businesses. Even if they’ve heard of it as a speculation asset, fewer still have seen it action as a currency.
Jon Southurst of Bitsonline was at Money20/20 and had a chance to catch up with payments racers.
“The biggest problem (with gold) is no-one accepts it anymore!” a racer complained.
The contactless racer summarized, “Similar to Bitcoin, no-one knew what it was! … As soon as I got to the U.S., no-one knew what it was… no-one wanted to hear what it was. Some knew what Apple Pay was, but it often didn’t work.”
A surprise happened to the racer who used only cash, dollar bills. “How hard can it be?,” he asked rhetorically. “Cash is king, right? Wrong … booking things like hotel rooms and transport … I couldn’t pre-book anything … also, carrying around 2,000 pictures of George Washington in my bag didn’t feel like the safest thing in the world,” he stated.
A pleasant turn of events occurred when Ms. Arras discovered a key feature of bitcoin not often mentioned, the community.
“Despite the rules, several racers survived only with the help of friends and others nearby. That’s actually where Bitcoin shone — most payment methods don’t come with a fan community,” Mr. Southurst wrote.
“The only thing that got me here is Bitcoin people,” Ms. Arras explained to Mr. Southurst in an interview (see above) just after having been announced winner.
Bitcoiners are natural educators and evangelists, always ready to help bring someone along in their decentralized currency journey. Ms. Arras relied upon these facts during her travels.
She will compete again as a bitcoiner across Asia, starting in Singapore.
Do you think these types of competitions are good for bitcoin adoption? Tell us in the comments below!