Singapore welcomed the bitcoin couple on the last leg of their journey. Austin and Beccy decided they’d spend 90 days living off nothing but bitcoins after their honeymoon in July this year. They started off in their hometown of Provo, Utah, drove across half the United States, and flew across Europe, ending their trip with a final week in Singapore. They paid for rent, food, travel and anything else they needed solely with bitcoin.
The couple shared their tale of adventure starting off with the minor problem of paying for gas for their car. It turns out convincing a big oil company to accept bitcoin is not so easy. Luckily, a fan who worked at a gas station wanted to help and the couple was able to make their way onward to Colorado. Their story is full of issues like this stemming from the general lack of familiarity with bitcoin. They had to explain to everyone what it was and how it would work. This looked too much like a scam to the good folk of Stockholm. Unfortunate for Asutin and Beccy because they had to go hungry that day. But things seemed to work out in the end, and the couple seemed pleased with their achievement.
Looking on at the fairly modest group of people gathered at Lowercase, Beccy chimed, “I think the most compelling thing about bitcoin is the community”. Which, as they shared in their story, was always there to help them out. In Singapore a group of volunteers and friends helped them set up at a hotel within walking distance of two restaurants accepting bitcoin. In Europe and the US it was them and their fans and the local bitcoin communities organizing bitcoin ‘mobs’ and visit establishments in the hopes of convincing them of the potential customer base.
Under the gleaming glass facade of the Lasalle College of Arts, Lowercase was hosting some of the most active members of the bitcoin community from Singapore and beyond. People ranged from programmers running exchanges, to squash coaches accepting payment in bitcoin. The folks organizing the Bitcoin Singapore conference were there. “There’s barely any locals here though”, someone commented. It was true. Out of the 40 or so bitcoiners, only a handful were Singaporean. Attendees were from Czechoslovakia, Russia, Philippines, USA, and the UK, which if nothing, is a testament to Singapore’s cosmopolitan nature. Of course there’s probably people this scribe missed.
The air was generally perky. Possibly due to the recent rise above $200 in the bitcoin price. “Bitcoin’s paying for my MBA”, Neal quipped. He’s paying per semester, but its not hard to see that bitcoin has the potential to change lives. Asked what they though of bitcoin’s volatility, Beccy replied “Bitcoin has had it’s share of ups and downs, but guess what it’s still here.” Austin added, “People ask me if they should get into bitcoin and when; and I say yes and now”.
There are still a lot of questions hanging over bitcoin with regard to the regulatory environment. The Singapore exchange run by a local enthusiast is having to deal with some pressure. Hopefully this will not be intense enough to completely shut the tiny site down, being the only serious place for locals to buy and sell their bitcoins. Austin seemed worried about taxes stating that they were his biggest nightmare. “I need to get a really good accountant”, he commented.
Overall the environment seems optimistic, and even though there’s a few hiccups now and then in the price of bitcoin most people are happy with being involved in the fledgling ecosystem. There are still a lot of services needed by the bitcoin community, and bitcoin is nowhere near mainstream. This year alone there has been a burst of activity in the bitcoin environment. It is hoped that the future will also see bitcoin economy becoming more sophisticated adding new services and users.
Pictures courtesy Jana Zilcayova