A young married couple test the practicality of digital currency in the existing paper money world, by trying to live on Bitcoin alone — for three months. [ Life on Bitcoin credits: Dir: Travis Pitcher, Joseph Lebaron/ Austin M. Craig, Beccy Bingham/ 96 min/ Documentary/ Anti-Regulation/ 2017]
Is it possible to live entirely on Bitcoin? Only about 100,000 merchants and vendors worldwide currently accept the cryptocurrency, so the answer would seemingly be…no. But that naïve assessment would underestimate the passion and determination within the Bitcoin community (numbering several million users) to make Bitcoin not just the currency of the future, but the currency of the present.
Two such Bitcoin enthusiasts, a young couple from Utah, decided to make it their honeymoon adventure, immediately post-marriage, to live on Bitcoin exclusively for 90 days, and to make a documentary about their experience – hence, Life on Bitcoin. What they made is really two films, two stories intertwined.
The first is a documentary about Bitcoin itself — what it is, the challenges of using it, the potential of how it might one day supplant government currency and thereby create the first truly honest means of exchange, the regulatory cloud under which it exists, and the still limited understanding of Bitcoin by the general public.
At the same time, we see a second story, that of two very charming young newlyweds beginning life’s adventure together, supporting each other when things go badly, sharing the triumph when things go well, and managing to do it all in front of a camera without seeming contrived.
As far as the practicality of Bitcoin goes, which is what this exercise set out to test, we learn that…yes, if you are very determined you might get by on Bitcoin, if you live in a community where you know people and can persuade others to go along. It will be limiting, of course, but you can survive.
However, making that point alone was not enough to satisfy the gutsy couple at the center of this film. After succeeding in living on Bitcoin in their hometown of Provo, Utah, they decided to push the question further, to test the boundaries of what is possible in a big way — by going on a road trip across the US, travelling from Utah to New York, and then on to Europe and Asia. As you might expect, this did not go quite as well; indeed, at times they only got by due to the kindness of strangers. By the end of the adventure, our intrepid pair were clearly frustrated and spent, but you get the feeling that their little misery nonetheless did like its mutual company all the more for having shared the moment.
Life on Bitcoin has a definite libertarian vibe, and includes many Bitcoin-loving government skeptics of various stripes. I learned a lot about Bitcoin from such experts, but I think I learned something more from the two adventurers who lived, as it were, the film. Bitcoin represents to them not just a means of exchange, but a hope for a better, freer world; and in turn, Bitcoin is also a cause, to make that better world happen. Half the fun of the film is sharing in that optimism. Part newlywed road trip, part Bitcoin primer, Life on Bitcoin is a thoroughly enjoyable introduction both to cryptocurrency and to the community of people promoting it.
“A terrific crash course in cryptocurrencies wrapped in a compelling story about human relationships.”
How to See It
“Most people start married life together taking stock of wedding gifts, maybe buying some extra household items with that seed money from generous wedding guests, or reminiscing about their honeymoon. Austin and Beccy Craig obviously thought that sounded boring and way too predictable. So, instead, they formed an experiment and spent their first 101 post-honeymoon days buying things and traveling, but they did so using bitcoin and bitcoin only.”
“After one couple proved you can travel round the world using bitcoin, the currency is rapidly becoming a viable choice for the tech-savvy tourist.”
“Bitcoin newlyweds: Couple will live first 90 days of married life on virtual currency.”