The Church of Bitcoin has plenty of preachers. You don’t have to look far to find people from across the world ready to sing the praises of the original cryptocurrency. From all corners of the internet they urge unbelievers to join the ranks of the faithful. When we can all meet in public again, their voices will ring out louder than ever from podiums and stages as blockchain’s believers gather together once more.
Bitcoin is the future of money. Bitcoin can change the world. Bitcoin will bank the unbanked. Bitcoin will set us free. Bitcoin’s going to $500,000. We’ve heard all this before and there’s plenty of truth, to a greater or lesser degree, in those statements. Yet when hearing all this from many of the talking heads out there, the words can begin to sound like platitudes.
It’s easy to evangelise when you’re sitting on a hoard of bitcoins you bought in 2014 and picturing yourself as a 21st Century Warren Buffett. Ok, so they got in earlier than most and are feeling pretty pleased with themselves: but what, other than hodling a load of sats and chirping on about it, are they actually doing to make the bitcoin dream come true?
In many cases the answer is: not much. For some, the mere fact that they’ve managed to make a bit of money, in defiance of those who wrote bitcoin off, is enough to make them an expert. Maybe they bought some BTC just after Jamie Dimon labelled it ‘a fraud’ and now consider themselves to know better than any Wall Street bigshot. Let us now stand and sing hymn number 101, Guide Me, O Thou Great Satoshi…
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Do You Walk the Walk?
While there are plenty of keyboard warriors out there spouting forth about bitcoin and its potential, there are others prepared to go further. Much further, as it turns out. Yes, there are people out there actively pushing bitcoin into the mainstream, determined to drag it forward from being a store of value to achieving its full potential. And they don’t come any more committed to the cause than Didi Taihuttu.
It certainly helps the brand when you look like you could play bass for Metallica and Didi is the type who stands out even before you hear his story. With his shoulder-length hair, tattoos, perma-tan and penchant for dressing down, he rocks a pretty different look to most bitcoiners. But while he may look as though he’d be happier sipping mojitos down by the shoreline, what really gets him going is bitcoin and what he thinks it can do for society.
Back in 2017, when things were starting to get interesting, Didi sold almost everything he owned and bought BTC. A lot of BTC. He then set out to live a nomadic existence, convinced that bitcoin would help him to enjoy a freer, less materialistic way of life. But before you start to picture him as some Lone Ranger-type, bear this in mind: he also took his wife and three young daughters along for the ride.
In the Beginning
Didi Taihuttu was born in 1978 in the Netherlands, son of a Dutch mother and a father from the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. He played professional football until he was 20 and ‘quickly realised I wasn’t born to be an employee.’
This attitude prompted him to start out in business for himself and he eventually found himself running several companies, including one that taught people basic software skills. Although this paid for a luxurious lifestyle for him and his family, Didi soon ‘realised it wasn’t life.’ His mother had died young, aged only 48 and, when his father announced that he had only one year to live, Didi decided his life needed to change.
In 2013 an intern had started at one of his companies and had told him about bitcoin. Didi was fascinated by the technology and intrigued by its potential to disrupt the world of mainstream finance. He invested in bitcoin mining and got on with his life.
By the end of 2016 he had already started travelling with his family, when his father died. A friend asked if he still had the bitcoins he had bought three years earlier, having seen that the price was starting to climb. It was at this point Didi recognised that bitcoin’s time had come.
Didi had grown frustrated with the comfortable, unchallenging and materialistic existence that he and his family were living. They wanted for nothing, except freedom. So, after consulting with his wife Romaine, he decided to sell up and travel the world. And bitcoin was going to make it all possible.
Having watched his early gains evaporate, Didi admits that, ‘to be honest I lost faith in BTC during the first crash in 2014 but bitcoin kept crossing my path.’ But with the price now starting to hit new highs, he took the decision to sell his companies, along with the family house, cars, furniture and almost all their other possessions, in order to buy up as much BTC as he could. Even the children’s toys were sold to free up funds.
Having sold almost everything they owned, the Didi and Romaine moved with daughters Jessa, Joli and Juna to a campsite not far from the house where they had once lived. Their life was simpler, with the three girls then aged 12, 10 and 7 swapping rooms of their own to sleep altogether in just one. It was a huge risk that Didi was taking, but ‘if you never take a risk, life is boring.’
Selling everything you own for BTC is one thing, but there’s more to life than living on a campsite in the Netherlands. The next stage of the family’s journey was to get on the road and see the world, as this was very much the original point of the whole endeavour. And so, unencumbered by possessions, they set off on their travels.
So far, Didi and his family have visited over 40 countries, paying their way using bitcoin and blazing a trail for others to follow. And here’s where their real service to crypto becomes apparent. It’s one thing to hodl a load of bitcoin like so many do, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the price and trying to decide what colour Lamborghini you’d like to buy.
It’s quite another to go out into the big, bad world and actually use that crypto as it was intended to be used: as an alternative to all the fiat currencies currently clogging up the world of mainstream finance.
As Didi puts it:
we’d shown that you could invest all-in. Now we had to show that you could live all-in
It’s this aspect of Didi’s story that we should be getting excited about. Yes, the headlines about a guy selling everything he owns to invest in bitcoin is eye-catching, but the real story is that he and his family were then able to travel the world and spend that money on living their lives.
In many instances, that was easier said than done. When they started out on their bitcoin world tour, many of the services that now make spending BTC easier were not in existence. Plenty of places accepted crypto, even back then, but it wasn’t always easy finding them.
These days the discerning traveller has the likes of CoinATMRadar to help them find their nearest BTC or other crypto ATM, but when the Taihuttus first started out they often had to rely on word of mouth to find such services.
The experience thus far has given Didi a unique insight into the pace of crypto adoption across the world. Some areas, especially Asia, are ahead of the curve in this respect. In Europe however, crypto users a less well-served. As of earlier this year, only Ljubljana in Slovenia and Rovereto in Italy were what could be called truly crypto-friendly towns, where it was possible to get by only using digital coins.
By contrast, Didi tells a story of trying to buy Turkish visas with crypto and instead having to pay a friend with BTC to get hold of prepaid Turkish credit cards in order for the family to enter the country. In the future, this sort of rigmarole will look comically old-fashioned, but it can hardly have been all that funny at the time.
Meanwhile in Asia, where vastly more people have little or no access to traditional forms of banking, people are waking up much quicker to the potential for BTC to change lives. The current system of fiat money has left millions of people locked out of financial services that so many of us take for granted.
Crypto is offering those people an alternative and it seems that they are grasping it with open arms. In Didi’s words, ‘I saw the truth: bitcoin and blockchain are the tools to change this monetary system.’
Building the Brand
By daring to take the plunge and live solely on crypto, Didi has gained a lot of respect and traction within the industry. The family’s travels are now part-funded by the likes of PrimeXBT and NDJ Investment Group, while the family has branded itself the ‘Bitcoin Family’ to help publicise their travels.
Didi himself is much in demand as a speaker at various crypto and blockchain events, as well as an advisor to various crypto and blockchain start-ups. He has also recently published his first book about his and his family’s adventures living a ‘decentralised lifestyle.’
In it, he also outlines his personal philosophy which rejects the idea of living a life governed by money and stresses the importance of experience and exploration over settling for a more comfortable existence. It also explains why and how he thinks bitcoin and blockchain are going to change the world. At the time of writing it is only available in Dutch or German versions, though an English edition is being planned for a future release.
Beyond the Moon
It’s natural when talking of Didi Taihuttu and his adventures with bitcoin to try and get an idea of how much he’s made from what has proved to be a spectacular investment. With BTC now back near its all-time high and predicted to keep climbing, this question seems as prescient as ever.
When asked about his net worth, he tends to clam up, only giving figures reluctantly. This seems to irk some people, who take it as proof that he has something to hide. We know that he made the bulk of his acquisitions in 2017, when the price was around the $1,000 mark, which would suggest he’s now sitting on a sizeable stash of sats, assuming he hasn’t cashed most or all of them out on the QT.
It’s also worth noting that, although BTC forms the biggest part of his holdings, he also holds ETH, LTC, DOT and a number of other altcoins in his portfolio.
But here’s the thing: speculating on his net worth or how much he’s made since going all-in on crypto misses the point of what he and his family are trying to do. Yes, there is money to be made in crypto and it’s right to talk it up as perhaps the greatest investment opportunity many of us may see in our lifetimes. Yes, it’s a great feeling to check your phone and find yourself a whole lot richer than you thought you were. But crypto offers us more than a way to make money.
Didi’s mission is to show us that crypto really can open up the world for us and free people from a financial system that all-too-often favours only those at the very top of the heap. Crypto is coming out of the shadows and can transform the way we live and work if only we let it. If we all hold on for dear life in the hope of a moon-shot, then the coins we’ve invested in will never reach their full potential.
Let’s leave the last word on this to the man himself: ‘My goal wasn’t to become a millionaire, my goal was to change life.’ Amen to that.
Featured Image via Shutterstock