(This article is written by Grafton Clark, with assistance from his good friend Garry Rominger. Grafton is a technical writer at Trezor and bona fide advocate of Bitcoin peer to peer trading at Vexl. He is also the best friend of Ash, the fluffiest and most privacy-friendly dog in Bitcoin. Follow Grafton on Twitter @SatsDisco)
Garry and I have been friends for nearly 13 years – united by our love for gaming, meat-based meals, random trips to castles, and unforgettable road trips to Berlin to attend concerts like Billy Strings. Our friendship grew as we spent countless evenings online, playing Call of Duty. Between rounds, we’d chat about everything: from our jobs and new movies, to girls and philosophy.
As I pursued a career in the world of Bitcoin, my expanding knowledge in the field deepened my focus on privacy and financial freedom in all aspects of my life. Bitcoin naturally became an essential part of my professional life and a recurring subject of conversation with Garry.
Despite his initial reservations (“No way man, it’s way too volatile and I don’t know anything about trading stocks, or whatever.”), I became increasingly passionate about sharing my experiences and knowledge about bitcoin with Garry during our in-game chats.
Although I’ve only worked in the industry for a short time, Bitcoin has been a huge presence in my life for nearly a decade. Needless to say, I’ve told countless stories and shared technical insights through rolled eyes and annoyed sighs which just motivated me to poke and prod further. I know Satoshi Nakamoto said “if you don’t believe it or don’t get it, I don’t have the time to try to convince you, sorry”. But when I’m playing video games late at night, believe me, I’ve got nothing but time.
Garry isn’t an overly ambitious man. He would always say “as long as the rent is paid and food is on the table, I’m good“. But I know him and I know he always finds a way to spend money he doesn’t have on things for him and his family. I could see that his stance on Bitcoin was softening. Despite this, however, difficulties acquiring bitcoin (an American living in the EU without an address or bank account in his home country made it difficult for him to be able to withdraw any needed currency he’d potentially purchase) left a bad taste in his mouth.
You could maybe understand why the overworked family man soured on this new financial endeavor. While he saw the merit in all I tried to explain, he still had fears over the perceived risks, and he was consistently faced with new obstacles each time he mustered the courage to take the plunge into the world of bitcoin. To Garry, bitcoin seemed temporarily out of reach.
Garry’s second son has just been born and gaming became an even more important bonding tool with his oldest. He set his sights on a Nintendo Switch. In 2017, I bought one such video game system at a local electronic store that had just started accepting bitcoin. I was reminded of this purchase each time I heard the click of the console starting. I was once again reminded of this purchase when I heard that, in his search for a reasonably priced Switch, he was immediately scammed on Facebook marketplace.
Upon hearing this, while I emphatized with his situation, I experienced a hint of “schadenfreude” – a German term for taking pleasure in others’ misfortune. Once we stopped laughing, I made the decision to offer him my Nintendo Switch at an, admittedly, excellent price. There was, however, a catch: I had to be paid in bitcoin, and I wouldn’t be selling any of my own coins for fiat.
Garry, now presented with a real-world reason to acquire bitcoin, was determined to make it happen. Through game chat, I quickly helped set him up with a Lightning wallet and we practiced zapping sats back-and-forth. Those were his first ever bitcoin transactions. He was amazed at how easy it was, which boosted his confidence. After this experience, he was excited to buy his first bitcoin. So I introduced him to Vexl, a mobile app that allowed him to buy bitcoin without the hassle of KYC and without dealing with a financial institution. Peer to peer, as it was intended.
Garry downloaded the app and quickly created an offer. Within minutes, he found someone willing to Vexl (trade bitcoin). He had finally converted his dirty fiat cash for bitcoin. End of transaction, no documents, no electric bills, no hassles and no difficulties. Garry’s first bitcoin purchase went the way many of us wish ours had gone.
He then sent that bitcoin to me – and in exchange, I happily turned over the Nintendo Switch for his son. I was more than pleased to replenish the bitcoin I had spent on the Switch so many years ago. It took a real world application and years of friendship for Garry to overcome his Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Today, he’s a proud and active bitcoiner.
The bitcoin community has really made some strides, simplifying just about everyone’s involvement with this peer to peer cash system. It’s less about making a fortune and more about having a simple, permissionless way to handle money.
Nowadays, there are tons of user-friendly tools that help people get into bitcoin without any fuss. It’s all about being in control of your own finances while enjoying the experience. Take Garry’s story as an example – he stepped into the world of bitcoin, and now he’s loving it. I felt incredibly proud when I got this text message from him, and I can’t resist sharing it with you:
The Bitcoin community has managed to make it not just accessible, but also quite a fun experience. With so many new doors opening up, people everywhere are starting to see bitcoin in a whole new light. I’ve really enjoyed watching Garry’s “aha” moments while taking his first steps in the realm of Bitcoin exploration. Now, every time we hang out, he’s all about picking up the tab… as long as I pay him back in BTC, of course. It’s been awesome being part of his journey, and I’m stoked to see how he’ll share his excitement and adventures with others.