Five people, traveling alone and allowed to use only one payment method, race from Toronto to Las Vegas — who would win? Competitor Amelie Arras thinks she can… with bitcoin.
Also read: The Crypto Bar: What Is Bitcoin Cash?
2,300 Mile Payments Race Across North America
The event is the Fintech Finance and Money20/20 “Payments Race”, from the SIBOS 2017 conference in Toronto to Money20/20 in Las Vegas, over 2,300 miles and one week away.
The rules are pretty simple: racers must use only a single payment method for all expenses to get from origin to destination. They must pay directly using their method. There’s also a series of daily challenges to complete at points along the way (you didn’t think you could just fly there and sleep for a week, did you?).
The five payment methods this time are: bitcoin, gold bullion, chip and PIN, contactless, and cash.
Europe’s Bitcoin Racer Never Left London
It’s the second event of its type — the previous one was a 784-mile London to Copenhagen trek in June 2017 for Money20/20 Europe.
The European race had more competitors and payment options, including pennies only, checks, mobile only, and magstripe. Racer Kevin Leslie arrived first using only a JCB card.
Arras is hoping to do better than Europe’s bitcoin racer Dave Erasmus, who wasn’t even able to leave London. She’s also hoping to be the first woman to win — all competitors in the Europe event were male.
Speaking to Bitsonline, Arras said her end goal is winning the race — especially given bitcoin’s poor showing in the previous one. Drawing more attention to bitcoin and the advantages of its strong user community are part of the plan.
“Exposure is a must I think, I am lucky in a sense to have bitcoin because on top of being a currency/payment method/an investment, there is a sense of community associated to it, (you can’t say the same for the one who has got chip and PIN). So exposure to these communities will actually be a success factor I think in winning the race.”
No Debit Cards, ATMs, Cash Exchanges
There are a few additional restrictions on how Arras may use bitcoin. She can make only wallet-to-wallet payments, and can’t use a bitcoin debit card. Pre-arranging purchases is not allowed.
But here’s the really tough part: she’s also not allowed to sell bitcoin for cash, either from bitcoin ATMs or other users. Whoever is providing the goods or services she buys must accept bitcoin directly.
The latter two restrictions are more likely to put the brakes on her journey, given the relative paucity of bitcoin-accepting merchants. Arras added:
“The trick I will be using is Cheapair as my main website for transport and hotel, but I am unsure yet about other details such as taxis, for this I am looking at educating and convincing people on the way to accept bitcoin (that will be tricky and the biggest challenge I am expecting). I am also connecting with bitcoin communities etc. So any advice feel free :)”
Conditions in the U.S. will likely be different to Europe. It’s a much longer journey over tougher terrain, for starters. The race’s cash user won’t have to exchange national currencies as often, but the electronic payers could face a tough time in more isolated places.
As with the previous event, competitors are all seasoned “influencers” (i.e.: marketers, actors and social media stars). They’ll all use their skills to draw attention to the event, and will post regular video diary updates along the way.
Arras is also collecting bitcoin donations on her race homepage. It’s not for herself, though — she’ll donate the balance to a bitcoin-enabled charity when the race is over.
Will Amelie and bitcoin win the race? Any suggestions or pieces of advice are welcome.
Images via Amelie Arras/Adastra Marketing