There are plenty of videos and infographics online explaining what bitcoin is and how it works, but now, a bitcoin activist in the US is planning an old school approach to promoting it. Activist bitcoin-focused marketing agency Bitcoin Bigfoot plans to distribute 100,000 promotional packs to activists around the country. But why?
Paper wallets aside, bitcoin is an aggressively digital phenomenon. Coins are mined, not printed, and they are spent only by sending transactions across the decentralised electronic network. Yet Curtis Fenimore, who together with colleague Jake Tital founded Bitcoin Bigfoot this year, wants to engage new users using a trifold brochure.
Fenimore will target new bitcoin users; those who have heard of it but don't really understand it, and don't know how to get involved. The project was inspired by several meetings he had with such people, which would invariably end with them asking him how to get a wallet, followed by him scribbling URLs on the back of a napkin. There had to be a better way, he decided.
A grassroots effort
The brochure includes information about how to get and spend bitcoin, including links to large retailers who are now taking it. He will distribute it via regional bitcoin activists who ask for the leaflets in bulk. The brochures will include spaces for those activists to list local merchants taking bitcoin, in an attempt to spark grassroots support for the digital currency.
He has raised around 26 bitcoins, which he says should be enough to finish the design, printing, and distribution of the coins. A self-proclaimed "bitcoin believer", Fenimore is paying for as much of the project as possible directly in bitcoin. Only the postage will have to be paid in fiat, as sadly, Uncle Sam has elected not to take bitcoin payments for processing the mail.
Distribution starts on April 1, and will run for 90 days, but this won't be the only production run. He will already be thinking about an update to the leaflet before the distribution phase ends, he says, because the bitcoin situation is changing so quickly. There will already be new merchants who should be included, for example. He hopes to have distributed 500,000 of the leaflets by the end of the year.
He hopes that by that time, bitcoin will have become mainstream and "boring" enough that at least one of the three major delivery companies in the US will be taking payment in it, enabling him to make the whole process fiat-free.
It's clear that Fenimore has high hopes for bitcoin, but then, he comes from a solidly libertarian background. He was an organiser of the Porcupine Freedom Festival, affiliated with the New Hampshire-based Free State Project, a libertarian-driven movement to gather 20,000 people in the state and create a society promoting limited government.
Fenimore's approach to bitcoin newbies differs from, say, Gareth MacLeod's Tinkercoin, which focuses on selling them bitcoins for a 25% markup. But Bitcoin Bigfoot will eventually be a for-profit concern, he hopes. He will begin selling bitcoin merchandise and promotional materials, producing it for clients at competitive rates.
Until then, however, he's relying on sponsors, and currently has 18 of them. CoinReport.net, Coinapult, expresscoin, DirectPool.net, LocalBitcoins.com, BIPS, KryptoKit, BitGo, Crypto Communications, and CoinMKT have thrown him some bitcoins, as have Let's Talk Bitcoin, CheapAir, Bitcoiniacs, CoinTrader.net, Bitcoin Buzz, Coinosphere, Coinality, and Bitcoin Magazine.
"Bitcoin represents a paradigm shift on so many levels. We're living in the future and bitcoin is a taste of that," Fenimore says. "I don't need to list for you all the benefits of it but all of those things are pointing towards a brighter tomorrow in which the value of what we use to trade is based on consensus and market rates."
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