Will Adastra Marketing Director, Amelie Arras from Chichester in West Sussex, U.K. become the first woman to cross the U.S. using only bitcoin as currency independently? That’s the question that looms on the eve of the FinTech Finance Money 20/20 Payments race set to commence on Wednesday, October 18 from the Sibos exhibition in Toronto.
Arras will join other intrepid racers from the world of Payments and FinTech in traversing the great plains of North America to complete the 2,300-mile trip from Toronto to Las Vegas, using nothing but a single method of payment.
The race will consist of seven secret designated challenges along the route, set by company sponsors and race event organizers. It will end at Money 20/20 USA in Las Vegas, the largest FinTech and Payments event in the world. It comes fresh from the London to Copenhagen race challenge that occurred in June for Money 20/20 Europe.
This is just the second race of this nature has been run in the build-up to Money 20/20. It comes as bitcoin is experiencing record highs in the exchange market. Yet the general acceptance of the currency is not in line with the growth in value. This will make the journey a challenge as Arras seeks to traverse the near 2,300 miles, across ten states, on a currency that is still very much finding its feet in the US market.
With the recent claims of widening bitcoin acceptance in travel agents, hotels, airlines, food outlets, gas stations, car hire companies and ATMs in the US, Amelie is confident that this race will be different. Bitcoin is the world’s leading cryptocurrency, and Arras’ challenge is to purchase everything from food to travel to accommodation during the seven-day race.
Adastra Marketing, who Arras works for is a UK based specialist FinTech marketing agency, with a dedicated team passionate about the future of payments and financial services. With her bitcoin wallet and trusty video camera, Adastra has ultimate faith that our intrepid Marketing Director will win, or at least pass the finish line in time.
Here at BTCManager, we had the opportunity to interview Arras about her ambitious quest and what to expect from it.
Can You Share Your General Thoughts about the Challenge?
I’m really excited to be part of the race and to have bitcoin as my payment method. As FinTech and Payments marketing specialists, Adastra is close to innovations within the payment market. Bitcoin, a virtual currency was launched in 2009 and has slowly evolved into a legitimate payment method accepted by a small but growing number of merchants worldwide. It may still be seen by most consumers as an investment rather than a method of payment, but hopefully, perception and acceptance by merchants is starting to change. Follow my challenge – I am determined to win the race!
Tell Us More about the Race.
This challenge is part of the Payment Race organized by Fintech Finance and Money 20/20, where I will be competing with other racers, with different payment methods, in a seven-day race across America from Toronto to Las Vegas. I asked to be part of the race because I believe it is important when working in payments to experience it first hand, and this is a fun way to do just that. I requested bitcoin because I believe cryptocurrencies are the future, and I wanted an opportunity to prove it, while also educating others of its benefits and limitations.
Where do You currently Reside? How did you Originally Discover Bitcoin and How do you currently Use it?
I reside in Chichester, a small city an hour south of London in the UK. I first discovered Bitcoin through work as the Marketing Director for Adastra. As such, blockchain and cryptocurrency is a hot topic concerning a lot of our clients right now. I recently went around my home city to ask merchants if they accepted bitcoin, and the results were a little scary. Most didn’t accept it, and many were not even aware of it. The one store that claimed to accept it, only did so online.
Do you Personally Use Bitcoin now?
Yes but I am a bit of novice really when it comes to my own personal bitcoin use. I had never used the currency before signing on for this challenge, but so far, I have found it really easy to get into. I always say it is a great investment opportunity, but never as a method of payment. Hopefully after this challenge that will all change.
What do you Anticipate will be Your Biggest Challenge in terms of the Use of Bitcoin on Your Trip?
The biggest challenge will be getting between the people and places that accept bitcoin. So, the small things that we often take for granted like public transport of hailing a cab is going to be difficult. If I cannot use bitcoin, I will try to convince people I meet along the way to do something for me in exchange for bitcoin.
I see two challenges here; the first one is if they do not know what it is, I will have to start from scratch explaining simply the concept of bitcoin and getting them to download a wallet so they can accept my payment. Second, is to convince them that they can use the payment I have given them themselves. Because of course, they will never agree to it if they can’t see the tangible returns of having bitcoin. So, I may have to traipse across a city to find them a bitcoin ATM. (Which I can’t use because of the race rules.)
What sort of Emerging Trends Do You Believe We’ll See in the Next 12-18 Months in terms of Bitcoin Consumerism?
There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of bitcoin in the consumer space, why would people spend it if there is a dimension of investment associated with it? After all, why would I spend my bitcoin on a sandwich if tomorrow the same bitcoin will be worth two sandwiches?
There are many threats for bitcoin I believe, one of the trends I see coming up is the reconciliation with the transaction banking system. Banks clearly see the future in digital currency and blockchain technology, in terms of cross-border transaction capabilities. It is phenomenal how it would change the current transaction banking system. As for me being French and living in the UK, I remember my parents sending money from France when I first arrived, and the transaction process was so long. If banks could adopt this as technology, the consumer will definitely be more inclined to use it more often.
What’s Next for you When you Arrive in Vegas?
When I arrive in Vegas, I will stay at the Money 20/20 conference, where myself and my fellow racers will be involved in a panel discussion about our journeys. From there I’ll make my way back across the pond to England. There are other races planned which I hope to be part of. Bitcoin acceptance in America is just the tip of the iceberg; there are many other markets to explore where a similar challenge will help to shed light on the acceptance debate.