Aussie Jaide Barclay says that trying to survive on crypto while traveling the world on her 12 Week Crypto Challenge was harder than she’d imagined.
“A couple of days in I was like: ‘This is so hard. I regretted it instantly,” she says of her ambitious 12 Week Crypto Challenge. “The whole challenge brings out your emotions like crazy. It feels like I’m hungover every day. You’re tired you really need a coffee or are hungry. You emotions are amplified and when somebody says ‘Just pay cash’ you’re like: ‘It’s not that easy. Just take my crypto!”
The 32-year-old Gold Coast resident quit her job earlier this year and challenged herself to survive on crypto while criss-crossing the world for blockchain conferences over 12 weeks. She’s spent $20,000 of her savings so far on the 12 Week Crypto Challenge and will visit five continents before she’s through on May 25.
12 Week Crypto Challenge turns out to be very challenging
But by day three of the 12 Week Crypto Challenge in March, at the reportedly ‘crypto friendly’ Brisbane Airport, the wheels had begun to fall off. “There were meant to be more places at the airport accepting crypto but I couldn’t find breakfast or coffee at after I went through customs,” she says.
“I was actually getting quite angry because it was so frustrating. You ask the question to the waiter (about crypto payments) and they literally don’t care. And I was like ‘fucking hell, I’m really hungry. You better go find out!'”
(Barclay is quick to add that she’s become very familiar with Brisbane Airport since and has tracked down the various outlets that accept crypto payments.)
Try catching a taxi in Hong Kong
Things weren’t much better when she landed in Hong Kong. She was only able to catch a train into town because she had an Octopus Card from a previous trip, but was then stranded at the central train station.
“I couldn’t get a taxi and then I had to wheel my suitcase for about a kilometre and a half,” she says.
With a little help from my (new) friends
Before she left she’d posted the 12 Week Crypto Challenge on Instagram and had been inundated with messages of support. By the first night at Hong Kong Blockchain Week, she’d made new friends who loved the concept and shouted her drinks and food which helped her survive that first week.
“I was like ‘Seriously guys this isn’t what my challenge is about. So I ended up transferring crypto in their wallets. I would not have been able to survive if I hadn’t been (doing that). People buy me stuff and I pay them back with crypto. I’m doing that every single week,” she says.
Crypto no longer accepted
Barclay also made the disappointing discovery that a lot of restaurants and retail stores that claim to accept crypto on the web, no longer do in reality. “I think a lot of places got excited in 2017 and then after the crash they found no call for it and stopped accepting it,” she explains.
Barclay has since acquired two debit cards, from TenX and Crypto.com that allow you to spend crypto anywhere credit cards are accepted. In Korea, she was also given an ADA preloaded crypto gift card that is accepted in more than 30,000 stores.
“I didn’t want to just get them and survive on them,” she explains. “I use them in emergency or situation with no other option. I don’t use for food or coffee or alcohol.”
The most welcoming countries – Singapore, Australia and Bali
On the upside, some countries are very welcoming to crypto tourists. “Singapore was hands down the most crypto-friendly. If you were there for a two week holiday I think you could live off crypto, and because so many places that accept it you’d have variety as well.”
Crytpo is also widely accepted in Bali, Indonesia, she says possibly because numerous Aussies that got rich off crypto seem to have retired to the island to set up tourism businesses.
“The Aussies that moved there are quite open minded and very appreciative of me trying to do what I’m doing. My biggest challenge is I don’t want to just buy food and coffee – In Bali I wanted a massage and facial and I found somewhere! The owner was so encouraging and wanted out roll crypto out to his whole resort.”
Home sweet home
Sydney, Australia isn’t that great for crypto, she says, but it is more than made up for by Brisbane. “Brisbane is so crypto friendly, it’s amazing,” she says. “I can call ahead and all the places that say they take crypto, still accept it. You can hire a car with crypto.”
Early next week, Barclay intends to drive up to ‘Australia’s first crypto holiday town’ 1770, in Queensland where at least 30 local businesses accept crypto payments. “It sounds like it’ll be even easier than Brisbane.” She’s already arranged to go scuba-diving, paid for with crypto.
Barriers to adoption
Barclay’s 12 Week Crypto Challenge has highlighted in her mind a few big issues in the way of greater adoption. She says many staff are still unsure how to use crypto payment machines. “They’re worried the transaction won’t go through and they’ll get in trouble with the boss”.
She says most staff have also only ever heard of Bitcoin, which makes paying with Ethereum a chore. And one big issue is that Bitcoin and Ethereum transactions are currently far too slow in fast paced retail environments. She estimates transactions took between 30 seconds to five minutes to process.
“During dinner or lunch that’s frustrating for the staff when they have a million other things to do have to waiting around for it. They kept saying ‘just pay cash, just pay cash’. I’d be like ‘I can’t fucking pay cash!'”
She intends to trial out Aussie company TravelByBit’s Lightning-enabled payment service during her visit to 1770 next week. It promises much faster transactions for low value purchases.
Barclay’s upcoming travel plans include Consensus in New York as well as trips to Malta, Spain, and Tunisia.
Agreed conclusion: we need a new bull run
After nine weeks of traveling the world and surviving on crypto, Barclay has concluded that while there are promising signs, it’s still early days yet.
“I think there’s not enough understanding of what it is and how it works. I think the (crypto based) cards, because everyone is familiar with Visa and Mastercard, and they run through normal machine, are the way forward. I think it will be years away before proper adoption.
“I think we’ll need another bull run to get people interested and learning about it again.”
Other countries she visited on the 12 Week Crypto Challenge:
China – “The hardest. The Chinese are scared of even discussing crypto with people. It’s so unclear about what is banned and what is allowed.”
Korea – “It was mid-point. Koreans went crazy over crypto in bull markets but it’s gone backwards and is not accepted in a lot of places anymore. But that’s where I was given the ADA card and I really appreciated it a lot. 30,000 places accept that card and it was growing so I didn’t have to worry about where to go.”
Japan – “It was quite difficult. I spoke with a Japanese guy about what was happening with crypto and he said Japan is cash orientated because people are scared of getting credit cards. They’re taught at school it is dangerous magical money.”
Malaysia – “It was difficult actually. I wasn’t there for very long, less than 24 hours. I relied on breakfast at hotel and only went to one restaurant that accepted crypto.”