Techies live off Bitcoin for a month

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Shoreditch developers living off Bitcoin

Two Shoreditch tech developers have been living on Bitcoin for a month to gauge the popularity of the electronic currency.

This November Edward Moyse, 25, and Harry Huang, 24, have been paying for everything from groceries to transport using only Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, which was launched in 2008, is an unregulated digital currency which does not require cash or credit cards.

Over the last month, Bitcoin has bought the pair entry to gigs and a daily supply of Thai food and burritos, which Mr Moyes said have ”kept away the scurvy”.

However, the Bitcoin challenge was not without its drawbacks.

The men have had to eat dry cereal and have struggled to top up their Oyster cards.

“I think until recently this challenge wouldn’t have been possible, but now enough London merchants are accepting Bitcoin for us not to starve” said Mr Huang.

Shoreditch shops and restaurants have been leading the way on Bitcoin usage.

Establishments including MacIntyre Coffee on Hoxton Street now accept the currency, which allows merchants to take payments without expensive transaction fees.

The duo’s challenge coincides with the launch of their own app, called WYRE, which allows users to pay merchants using Bitcoin.

“One of the biggest problems at the moment is being able to spend Bitcoin out in the real world, so we thought we would create an app which would make it easier to use” said Mr Moyes.

They pair are marketing their app as the “Foursquare of Bitcoin”, because it allows users to see which merchants accept the digital currency on a map.

Earlier this year, Bitcoin was at the centre of international controversy after a Tokyo-based exchange lost its customers 750,000 Bitcoins ($480m) when it was infiltrated by hackers.

Mr Moyes and Mr Huang have designed WYRE to ensure private encryption keys are not stored on their servers.

The Google Campus cafe is the only business currently signed up to the WYRE app, but Mr Moyse and Mr Huang plan to get more merchants on board.

“In Shoreditch, people are willing to experiment with new technologies. In the future I expect most people will use Bitcoin on a daily basis.”

Shoreditch is home to London’s largest technology conglomerate, Tech City.

In March this year it became the first place in the UK to get a Bitcoin ATM.