Since our Wednesday news update, a number of readers have reached out, interested to learn more about the bitcoin girl. If you recall what we mentioned- iQiyi, the Netflix equivalent of China, is currently airing an ongoing documentary that follows a bitcoin enthusiast in China who is looking to survive 21 days in Beijing merely on 0.21 bitcoin, without any help or donations. She is living on the equivalent of $1300, which is a not insignificant amount in China, as you can purchase a bowl of noodles for just $1.
The real challenge is, will people accept bitcoin?
TL:DR- bitcoin usage adoption in China is still there, may be higher than the US
This documentary was eye-opening to us in terms of the level of bitcoin adoption and crypto happenings in some of China’s largest tech-forward cities. We decided to share with you some of the bitcoin girl’s adventures below.
🍵 He You Bing’s Bitcoin Challenge
He You Bing is not the challenger’s real name. It’s a nickname, with “You Bing” directly translating to “having a disease”, and the whole name alluding to the girl’s enthusiasm for bitcoin as some sort of “disease”.
On the first day of the challenge, Bing arrives in Beijing. She wanted to go to an amusement park. The entrance fee was 2 Chinese Yuan, or around 30 cents in USD, but the park didn’t accept bitcoin. Bing also asked several fast food restaurants whether they accepted bitcoin so she could buy food, but neither of them did.
Bing explained that a blockchain is a distributed ledger to a newspaper stand seller.
In these daily video-log like documentaries, Bing is filmed running around asking different business vendors whether they accept bitcoin. She often had to explain to people what a bitcoin is.
It’s probably not a surprise that Bing had 0 success making transaction on her first day. She subsisted on 4 packets of ketchup and food samples from a supermarket. She slept in a 24-hour Mcdonalds on her first night.
The second day, Bing foraged for food. She grabbed fruits from wild trees. Her food intake for the second day consisted of some fruits on a tree, leftover burger from someone else in a McDonald’s. Then she ended up getting a stomach ache and threw up.
She slept in another 24-hour McDonald’s for the 2nd time.
On the third day, Bing was becoming hopeless. She was on the verge of fainting and the filmmakers sent her to the hospital. At this point, the challenge has gathered some attention and supporters were able to contact the filmmakers. They then brought Bing food and transferred her cash, she paid them back by bitcoin.
On the third night, she slept in an art gallery.
Bing’s story soon spread and people started finding her through Wechat and they would offer to exchange bitcoin to fiat with her in Wechat. At that point, the challenge would have become too easy, so the filmmakers changed the rules where Bing had to transact offline and exchange Bitcoin with people in real life.
Fast forward to the 7th day. The film editor who was volunteering for the film returned to school and the filmmaking team didn’t have the resources to edit day 4–6’s videos.
On the 7th day, Beijing was having the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit. When there are government events like these happening in the capital, security becomes particularly tight, and there are police everywhere. Given that crypto is still a sensitive topic, the filmmakers decided to all move to Shenzhen to continue the challenge.
By now, six support groups have been formed in Wechat, with every Wechat group having 500 people (500 is the max number of people one can have in a Wechat group). These chatroom participants included bitcoin believers, real estate agent and advertising salesmen.
Despite the current ban on crypto activities, the documentary shows that Bitcoin is alive and well in China in the digital communities, albeit not prevalent in the physical world. Bing was able to get through living in China simply through her phone. The power of Wechat brought her supporters directly to her.
On the same day, Bing got in contact with some of her Wechat supporters and was able to purchase face wash from them through bitcoin.
However, in general, most people who she approaches are very skeptical of crypto or don’t understand, such as a man she approached in a McDonalds.
On the 8th day, things improved. Bing got someone to buy her clothes and book her a hotel room for her by exchanging Bitcoin.
Bing also found a restaurant that accepted bitcoin. Their menu includes a description of bitcoin.
Gradually, Bing’s bitcoin challenge has started a small movement, where supporters of Bing would also approach shops to ask whether they accepted bitcoin and relay the information to her.
On a daily basis, the filming team recorded how many business and pedestrians Bing outreached to and the number of successful bitcoin transactions she made. From the initial 10 days to now, Bing has gradually gained confidence. Overtime, the number of outreaches she did increased from ten to twenty people to over a hundred times a day. The number of successful transactions was still only a handful of times every day, however.
This is an example of what the documentary makers record daily.
As she gets assimilate into this new lifestyle, Bing found people to exchange Bitcoin to fiat with her to purchase her train tickets, her hotel rooms, and her meals.
Bing has continued now and is up to day 17. Her and the filmmakers have migrated to the city of Guangzhou.
At this point, she has become like a bitcoin celebrity in the crypto community.
You can watch the some of the videos on youtube here. For the complete set, you may have to go to iQiyi’s site.