Despite the Chinese government’s crackdown on digital currency trading and its ban on payment services that accept cryptocurrencies, the South China Morning Post details the work of a group who attempts to survive on bitcoin alone for 21 days.
The group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, called “Team 1234,” released a documentary called “Bitcoin Girl” on video streaming service iQiyi showing the result of this experiment. Starting out with bitcoin worth an estimated $1,400 USD, one woman named He Youbing (Mandarin for “why insane”) then had to find a way to use it.
“Her experiment involved persuading shop owners and strangers to accept bitcoin in exchange for food, accommodation and traditional banknotes, while educating them about the benefits of blockchain.”
The start of the her journey was harsh. Even though she was in Beijing, she was nearing a failed experiment. One night she had to sleep in a McDonalds and dined on ketchup packets. She was so low on blood sugar she nearly passed out one day and was later sent to the hospital by a person she befriended on a cryptocurrency chat group. Some people in that same chat group later traded food for her bitcoin.
As she traveled out of the city towards the southern coastal city of Shenzhen she had much better luck. One crayfish restaurant in that city accepted bitcoin and a yoga teacher she met bought some directly off her. She then used that money to purchase her hotel.
The documentary shows how far the country has to go for mainstream and widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies; especially for everyday transactions. Her experiment was essentially on thin ice the whole time as she had to rely on factors such as charity and chance. Her resilience, however, should serve as a sign that groups like Team 1234 that lobby for the freedom to use decentralized digital currencies will be working hard, especially in China, to see it come to fruition.