Austin and Beccy Craig, the Utah-based couple living on bitcoin for 90 days, have overcome yet another hurdle and paid for a hotel and flights in bitcoin.
The couple, whose experiences are being filmed for a documentary titled Life on Bitcoin, managed to pay for flights to and from Atlanta plus a hotel room in the city via Bulgaria-based company Simply Travel.
"Travel is challenging, but the biggest challenge was connecting with the right travel agency. Since we started speaking with Gregor Amon, the CEO at Simply Travel, it's all logistics," explained Austin.
Currently, the website only allows users to purchase hotel rooms, but it plans to add flights and rental cars over the next few weeks.
He told CoinDesk he first heard about bitcoin around two years ago but has only been following it closely since the price rocketed in April this year. He said he was cautious about accepting bitcoin after the subsequent price crash, but was still convinced about bitcoin being a "great technology".
"In the travel industry, we transfer a lot of money internationally. It's less of an issue in Europe where a SEPA bank transfer is free and usually at the receiver's account within 24 hours, but everything outside of Europe is a big pain," Amon added.
He went on to say he is also faced with credit card charges, fraud risk and chargebacks, all of which can be avoided if payments are made in bitcoin. Amon, who lives in Munch, Germany, said:
"At the moment, we still have a certain currency conversion risk because we need to pay our suppliers in fiat currency, but I am willing to take that.
It's just such an awesome way of transferring money, I think in a couple of years it will at least replace the way money is sent."
The company is using BitPay to process bitcoin payments from its customers, but Amon said he doesn't like the 0.99% it charges. "So in the long run I am thinking of not using any payment provider. It's not that difficult to implement, after all.
"With the high competition in the travel section, the more cost efficient I am, the better rates I can give my clients."
Simply Travel has been operating for three years and initially started as a hotel booking service for airline crews. Amon used to be a pilot on private jets flying VIPs internationally so he used the knowledge he gained in that position to build Simply Travel.
Travelling on bitcoin
Austin Craig told CoinDesk he and his wife still have a few details to sort out before they head off to Atlanta to attend the Crypto-Currency Conference on 5th October. "We'll end up packing a lot like we're going camping, so we can be sure to be prepared for any unexpected scenario. We're not sure how we're going to eat or get to and from the airport. We're hustling to figure that out."
The couple said that, since starting their challenge, they have done business in bitcoin with around 33 companies. Austin believes this will become a lot more difficult when they are travelling, as companies usually take a few days to integrate the bitcoin payment process system.
"In my experience, most businesses that are accepting bitcoin today have a very low volume of bitcoin customers. The big companies aren't highly incentivized to make those changes until there are some market signals that people really want to use it," he explained.
Austin speculates it could be years before larger travel companies accept payment in bitcoin, but for now the couple are more than happy with using Simply Travel, which is also arranging their flights for their round-the-world trip.
Check out Austin and Beccy's video on their planned route:
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.