Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin. We’re all a little sick of hearing about it. But statistically speaking, only a small fraction of you actually use (much less understand) the anonymously held cryptocurrency. The rest of us are watching from the sidelines—curious, but skeptical.
That’s more or less the situation Austin Craig was in when he committed himself and his fiance Beccy Bingham to participate in a documentary, surviving while spending only Bitcoins for three months.
"I have the sinking suspicion that there are real benefits to it," Craig says, "Even though I don’t fully understand it."
Life on Bitcoin will kick off on July 27, when Craig and Bingham return from their honeymoon in Costa Rica and hand over their cash, credit cards, and phones before leaving the airport. From then on, they’ll have to figure out how to meet basic needs like food, Internet, and medical care without spending a cent.
It isn’t the first experiment in life off the currency grid. Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill tried it in May, but she only did it for a week, and she lost five pounds because of the difficulty of paying for food and transportation. That was in tech-saturated San Francisco. Austin and Beccy live in Provo, Utah.
"To my knowledge there is one sandwich shop in Provo, Utah, that accepts Bitcoin," Craig says. "I’m not aware of anywhere else that does." And that’s kind of the point. The documentary is an experiment to see if a pair of regular American newlyweds can actually survive on Bitcoin alone. Where they fail, they will have to problem solve. If their landlord won’t accept the currency (they’ve avoided asking him), they will have to move out.
The project has met its initial funding goal of $70,000 on Kickstarter. Additional funds will help send them, if possible, to another country. "I think our ultimate biggest stretch goal is to cross an ocean," Craig says. If they can make it, at least they won’t have to worry about the exchange rate.
Craig doesn’t know how the film will be distributed, but he is adamant about one point: you will be able to pay to see it using Bitcoin. "I’d feel like it wasn’t true to the film if we didn’t make that available," he says.