The 21-day bitcoin problem – TechCrunch


There is a documentary collection presently airing on iQiyi, China’s Netflix equal, a couple of Chinese bitcoin fanatic who makes an attempt to outlive 21 days by merely residing on 0.21 bitcoin, or $1,300, with none help or donations.

He You Bing is touring and carrying nothing together with her, and she or he has to retrieve meals, housing, and fundamental requirements all by means of bitcoin transactions achieved on her cellphone. Interestingly, she is also doing this problem in a few of China’s largest cities including Beijing and Shenzhen.

Her identify is one thing of a nom de guerre – a nickname, with “You Bing” immediately translating to “having a disease,” and the entire identify alludes to the woman’s over-enthusiasm for bitcoin.

It’s a captivating time for making this try. In the previous couple of weeks, there have been quite a few reviews of China’s crypto bans – including Beijing and Shenzhen banning public cryptocurrency-related speeches, events, or activities, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Also included within the purported ban had been various WeChat media accounts that promoted cryptocurrencies, which have been completely blocked. Furthermore, Beijing blocked access to the websites of over 120 offshore exchanges within the mainland and banned large crypto purchases by means of standard Chinese funds platforms Alipay and WeChat transactions.

Given the sheer variety of these bans, readers who reside outdoors of China could also be led to suppose that there’s a bleak outlook for the cryptocurrency setting on mainland China. But He You Bing’s Bitcoin problem reveals a refreshing perspective on the crypto consciousness of individuals residing in these local cities in addition to the facility of WeChat. $1,300 might not sound like a lot for 21 days of journey within the U.S., however in China, the place an inexpensive meal prices just $1, it could actually go a good distance. The actual query is, will folks settle for bitcoin?

Finding acceptance with bitcoin

Through every day video-log like documentaries, Bing is filmed operating round asking completely different business distributors whether or not they settle for bitcoin. The distributors, various from small hole-in-the-wall eateries to workers from massive chain shops like Uniqlo, specific their reactions which can be telling of their preconceived notions, or lack thereof, of bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Similar to the U.S., folks’s attitudes fluctuate from ignorance and mistrust to welcoming. It’s eye-opening to see how completely different Chinese folks take into consideration bitcoin.

On the first day of her problem, Bing arrives in Beijing, the place she desires to go to an amusement park. The entrance price is 2 Chinese Yuan, or round 30 cents in USD, however the park didn’t settle for bitcoin. Bing additionally requested a number of quick meals eating places whether or not they accepted bitcoin so she could purchase meals, however neither of them did.

As she approaches these distributors, slightly than paying in bitcoin, she typically has to clarify what a bitcoin is within the first place, and finds little or no success alongside the best way. One feat on her first day is that she was capable of finding an unlocked Ofo bike, a dockless bike that may be unlocked and paid for with one’s cellphone. With it, she biked round in an try to get to out to extra distributors. By the top of the first day, Bing didn’t reach finding a meals place that accepted bitcoin, and she or he subsisted on 4 packets of ketchup and meals samples from a grocery store. She slept in a 24-hour McDonald’s on her first evening.

The second day, Bing foraged for meals. She grabbed fruits from wild timber. Her meals consumption for the second day consisted of some fruits on a tree and another person’s leftover burger at a McDonald’s. She ended up getting a abdomen ache and threw up, sleeping in one other 24-hour McDonald’s. 

Bing was turning into hopeless by the third day. She was on the the verge of fainting and the filmmakers despatched her to a hospital. At this level, the problem had gathered some consideration, and supporters had been in a position to contact the filmmakers. They then introduced Bing meals and she or he paid for it by bitcoin. On the third evening, she slept in an artwork gallery.

It’s not the forex, it’s the group

Bing’s story quickly unfold and folks began finding her by means of WeChat the place they might provide to alternate bitcoin to fiat. At that time, the problem would have turn out to be too straightforward, so the filmmakers modified the principles in order that Bing needed to transact offline and alternate Bitcoin with folks in actual life.

On the sixth day, Beijing was having the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit, so the filmmakers moved to Shenzhen to proceed the problem. The viewers began getting suspicious of the filmmakers, asking whether or not they had been associated to rip-off tasks. The filmmakers mentioned that they had been approached by crypto tasks however that they declined them. By then, six help teams in WeChat had been created to help Bing, with each WeChat group having 500 folks (500 is the max variety of folks one can have in a WeChat group). These chatroom contributors included bitcoin believers, real estate brokers, and promoting salesmen.

Despite the current ban on crypto actions, the documentary exhibits that bitcoin is alive and properly in China inside digital communities, albeit not prevalent within the bodily world. Most of Bing’s days are documented on iQiyi. And her encounters are telling of what’s truly taking place in China in the case of cryptocurrency and cellular know-how adoption. Notably, Bing was in a position to get by means of residing in China merely by means of her cellphone. The energy of WeChat introduced her supporters on to her.

By day seven, Bing acquired involved with a few of her WeChat supporters and was in a position to buy face wash from them. The subsequent day, she discovered a restaurant that accepted bitcoin. She acquired somebody to purchase her garments at Uniqlo by exchanging bitcoin with them after which additionally discovered somebody who was keen to e-book a resort for her by exchanging bitcoin.

Gradually, Bing’s bitcoin problem began a small motion, the place her supporters would additionally method retailers to ask whether or not they accepted bitcoin and relay the data to her.

On a every day foundation, the filming team recorded how multiple business and pedestrians Bing reached out to and the variety of profitable bitcoin transactions she made. From the preliminary ten days to now, Bing has step by step gained confidence. She now has a method on the way to discover folks to alternate her bitcoins and what to alternate them for. Over time, the variety of inquiries Bing did elevated from ten to twenty a day to over 100 per day. The variety of profitable transactions was nonetheless solely a handful a day, nevertheless.

Bing’s story continues, and she or he is now at day 19. She and the filmmakers have migrated to the southern metropolis of Guangzhou. As she assimilates into this new way of life, Bing discovered folks to alternate Bitcoin to fiat together with her to buy her practice tickets, her resort rooms, and her meals. Nonetheless, extra typically than ever, the pedestrians and small business distributors she approached had been ignorant, skeptical, and didn’t wish to be a part of the filming.

Finding utility in bitcoin

Recently, China Daily covered Bing’s problem. The documentary has gotten some media consideration in China, and companies and establishments have requested to donate and sponsor the filmmakers. They have claimed that they’ve turned all of them down.

In the final year, the narrative round bitcoin has step by step centered on turning into a “store of value” within the U.S. given the rising transaction prices on the blockchain. Bitcoin transaction prices have increased from 30 cents at the beginning of 2017 to $40 at end of 2017 in the course of the peak of bitcoin prices. As a results of such massive fluctuations in charges, transactions now not occurred as often as before. Bitcoin’s transaction cost is now again all the way down to about 60 cents this year.

However, because the market has come down in the previous couple of months, bitcoin has once again turn out to be a “safe haven” for people to go to, and in consequence, bitcoin now makes up greater than 56% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, up from 34% at the beginning of January 2018.

Bing nonetheless will get folks suspecting that she is making an attempt to rip-off them. Since the rise of crypto prices and bitcoin reaching nearly as excessive as $20,000 on the finish of 2017, there have been quite a few rip-off cash popping out in every single place. In China, there are sometimes obscure and random cash that seem with no actual value-add, no relationship to any blockchain, and are devised purely to idiot non-savvy residents who suppose they’ll make a fast buck. In reality, one of many functions of Beijing’s ban on business venues internet hosting cryptocurrency occasions was geared toward purging cash from scamming the general public.

Bing will proceed and end her bitcoin problem, however the higher problem is on all of us within the blockchain group to repeatedly enhance this know-how for broader consumption.

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