SHARING AMERICA'S TECH NEWS FROM THE VALLEY TO THE ALLEY
by Kashmir Hill, courtesy Forbes —
Like so many couples who tied the knot this July, Austin Craig, 30, and Beccy Bingham Craig, 29, went on a tropical honeymoon after their ceremony, spending ten glorious days in Costa Rica. And like other newlyweds, they will return to their “normal lives”
Monday Tuesday with tans and ringed fingers. But unlike other newlyweds, when these two get back to Provo, Utah, they will be getting rid of all of their credit cards and cash and embarking on a 90-day challenge: “Married… With Bitcoin.”
Coincidentally, the arbitrary number of days for their project is the current USD value of a Bitcoin.
“The goal is to find out how developed the Bitcoin ecosystem is, what needs to change, and how easy it is to use, understand, and explain,” said Austin, when I interviewed the couple in June.
The cryptocurrency challenge will be well-documented. In addition to the usual self-promotion that is Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and YouTube clips, the couple will be starring in a ”Life on Bitcoin” documentary. They announced their plans in June via Kickstarter. They’ve raised over $72,000, as well as 82 Bitcoins — over $7,000 as of Bitcoin’s current valuation — for the documentary team that will be making a film about their attempts to get salaries, pay rent, buy groceries, get gas, eat, travel and entertain themselves, all in Bitcoin. (Meanwhile, another group of filmmakers trying to get a $100,000 for a Bitcoin documentary are struggling.)
I found living on Bitcoin for just a week in tech-forward San Francisco incredibly challenging. Doing so for three months in middle America should be quite the adventure, especially for a couple that’s known each other for less than a year. They dated for just three months before getting engaged, and got married six months after that.
“It’ll be stressful. We’re anticipating that,” said Austin. “We’re hoping newlyweddedness overcomes that.”
The couple has a small Bitcoin bank to start, but they are planning to get the rest of their money the old-fashioned way — by convincing their employers to pay them in the highly volatile digital currency. All of the money raised on Kickstarter goes toward the making of the documentary — slated for release in 2014 — not toward their living expenses. If they can manage to get paid Bitcoin for perkiness, they’ll have funds to last them much longer than three months:
Beccy works at a data center in Utah and Austin at a marketing firm. Perhaps recognizing the built-in publicity around the digital coin, both employers said they were amenable to BTC paychecks. But when I talked to the couple, they hadn’t yet gotten their landlord to agree to accept the coin (Good luck with that!) nor knew where they would get groceries. “There’s a sandwich shop in Provo that takes Bitcoin,” said Austin.
Austin — an actor and video consultant — was the big push behind the couple’s matrimonial publicity stunt, which generated headlines far and wide.
“I’m up for the adventure,” said Beccy, who admits to not knowing much about Bitcoin before Austin proposed the project (after proposing to her).
“I want to broaden the community of people accepting Bitcoin,” said Austin, who plans to evangelize and try to get other vendors to accept BTC over the course of the three months.
The couple aren’t complete Bitcoin purists: they are keeping a stash of “real” money around, in case of a medical emergency. If one of them winds up rushed to a hospital, they won’t have to waste time explaining Bitcoin to an intake nurse. But they are otherwise purists when it comes to only using things bought with Bitcoin. When I did my experiment, I let myself keep my US-dollar-paid smartphone plan for the week, because I needed it to be able to pay for things — the digital currency comes in a digital wallet after all. These two plan to only use cellphones that they can get with BTC.
“The first challenge is figuring out how we’re getting home from the airport,” said Austin Craig when I spoke with the couple in June. “We might call my mom collect,” added Beccy.