Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are often heavily criticized for their low real-world use, but as the Money2020 Payments Race shows every year, it’s slowly getting easier to use bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to buy things and get places.
The Money2020 Payments Race sees four payments teams (Cash, Card, Crypto, Wearables) race around the world, stopping off at checkpoints along the way—and this year Team Crypto was the first to cross the finish line, though Team Mobile won on points.
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency candidate this year was reality TV star of controversial U.K. show The Circle, Alex Hobern, who made the 12-day trip around the world using bitcoin and cryptocurrencies exclusively to buy tickets and stay alive, traveling from the U.K. through Ireland, Canada, the U.S., Hong Kong, the Middle East, and eastern Europe before arriving at the finish line in Amsterdam.
Hobern, who had no prior experience of bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, had to learn about them as he went, meeting people involved in bitcoin, Ripple’s XRP, litecoin and ethereum in the course of his travels and relying on websites like CoinMap to find cryptocurrency-accepting stores.
“In general, the easiest parts were the hotels and flights. There were middle-men who were able to accept bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in exchange for booking these things,” said Hobern, saying there were stores that said they did accept bitcoin and crypto for a short time but have since stopped.
“There were a lot of stores and merchants who said online or in their window that they accept bitcoin or cryptocurrencies but we were unable to use it when we arrived. One in Ireland had a bitcoin sign in the window but the person behind the counter didn’t know what bitcoin was.”