Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interesting Experiment: Living On Bitcoin For A Week: The Journey Begins

Day 1. On Tuesday morning, I emptied my wallet of all of the cash and credit cards before I left my house. Many journalists have been writing about the mechanics of buying Bitcoin and the resulting heart palpitations as they watched the dramatic rises and falls in the digital currency’s worth over the last few weeks. But that’s just a story about gambling. My editor issued a different challenge to test the currency’s legitimacy: “Don’t just buy Bitcoin. Live on it for a week.”

Here’s to hoping I survive on the virtual tokens that promise to make online transactions more anonymous and decentralized. No handing over your name and credit card number every time you make a purchase. It’s the online equivalent of paying cash.

Last week, I bought five Bitcoins through Coinbase after a failed attempt to do so via Mt. Gox, the value-setting Bitcoin exchange based in Japan; my bank refused to send funds to Mt. Gox’s account saying it was suspended so I instead transferred more than $600 to Coinbase to purchase my virtual coins for $126.69 each. The transfer – initiated on a Monday – didn’t present me with Bitcoins until Friday. By the time they arrived, they were worth $142 each.

The first order of business was figuring out how to get fed. Two places in San Francisco accept BTC: a sushi restaurant miles away from where I live and a cupcake shop between my house and work. I was worried about the distance (and the mercury levels) involved in dining at the sushi place all week; my Bitcoin isn’t currently accepted by taxis, ride sharing services or the public transportation system in San Francisco. And I was concerned about the waistband effect of every meal at the cupcake place.

There were a couple of online options: BitcoinClassifieds – with people were offering to sell Taco Bell gift cards and homemade preserves for BTC – and – a site offering weeks worth of high calorie energy bars for those people preparing themselves for a zombie attack or other apocalyptic events. The Bozeman, MT-based site accepted Bitcoin. I was on the verge of dropping one of my five on the not-very-appealing-but-surprisingly-expensive emergency food supplies when a friend Googled “Bitcoin and food delivery.”

He pointed me to Foodler, a food delivery service that has partnered with dozens of San Francisco restaurants and which started accepting Bitcoin on April 17. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and deposited a Bitcoin into an account on the site, taking my bank down to 4 Bitcoins and giving me $130 to spend on delivery services for the week.

But this isn’t very helpful to me on Tuesday morning when I wake up and want yogurt, granola and a coffee. I have to walk to work as I can’t pay to take the BART as I usually would. I try to stop by the Bitcoin-accepting bakery, Cups and Cakes, but it is closed. There is nowhere else I can go. I pass by a Starbucks and start salivating. - Read the whole story here:

1 comment:

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