A developer who specializes in the Bitcoin digital currency says he was sent back to China last week after he arrived at Sea-Tac Airport with only $600 in cash and wasn’t able to convince U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents that he would be able to fund his two-month visit using Bitcoin.

The developer, who goes by the alias “Doctor Nefario,” identifies himself as the founder of the Global Bitcoin Stock Exchange. He was coming to the U.S. to work with entrepreneurs Mike Koss and Peter Vessenes at the StartPad offices in downtown Seattle, said Koss, the StartPad director. Koss has been contemplating Bitcoin-related projects, and Vessenes has been working on one.

Koss says “Nefario” even paid StartPad in advance for a desk at the co-working space … in Bitcoin.

“With three of us in the office working on or thinking about Bitcoin projects, we thought we’d have a quorum to have a ‘Bitcoin Development Center’ based out of StartPad,” explains Koss via email. “With Nefario’s turn back at customs, we’ve lost some momentum on that.”

Nefario (whose alias is a reference to a “Despicable Me” character), gave more of his background in this interview with Bitcoin Weekly in June, describing himself as a cypherpunk. He chronicles his recent attempt to come to Seattle in this blog post, saying that the custom agents were courteous but highly skeptical about his explanation of how he would be paying for his travel and accommodations.

I was put into a small office when the five to six hours questioning began,did I have a credit card? How come I ony had $600? What the hell is bitcoin?

Although I was cash poor I had more than enough bitcoin to cover all the costs of my trip and stay, I was going to be meeting with bitoption later that morning in Seattle, he had $1500 of cash to exchange. I explained this to the agents and then the topic of the questioning turned to how bitcoin worked.

After about an hour of that, they took my iPad and brought back my phone, asked if either of them were locked, and then made copies of what was stored on both. They searched me, and my bags, I was questioned and cross examined on who I would be visiting, what I would be doing, and how I exchange bitcoin for dollars or services , how I got the bitcoins… for hours.

Nefario describes himself in the post as Irish and British and says he was travelling to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. In the end, customs agents informed him he wouldn’t be entering the U.S. and sent him back to China, telling him that he could apply for a Visa to return in the future.

Koss has refunded Nefario’s rent money, transferring the Bitcoin back to him, but the StartPad guys are still hoping to collaborate remotely with him on Bitcoin-related projects.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    This is a fascinating story! I haven’t joined in the Bitcoin movement yet but I think it is a really interesting idea especially with how it seems to threaten existing institutions (governments, banks, etc.)

    • Shant

      Join the Bitcoin movement?  Maybe you should do some research before jumping on the bandwagon.

      • http://atheros.myopenid.com/ Jonathan

        How is that not an accurate statement? Don’t be so rude to people.

        • Shant

          It’s not meant to be rude.  Bitcoin isn’t the next great tech innovation, like Google+.  Some of the main uses are for money laundering and buying drugs over onion networks.  He should just be a bit careful before expressing his desire to “join a movement”.

          • http://georgedonnelly.com George Donnelly

            There is nothing wrong with protecting your money and buying plants on anonymous-ish networks. Why do you wish to control your fellow man so?

          • Saints

            So Geroge, I guess Meth and Guns are plants all of a sudden?  Obviously you meant pot alone but that is one drug of many and one category of many things to buy on these networks.   you really took that post out of context.

          • http://georgedonnelly.com George Donnelly

            Cocaine, heroin, cannabis: all plants.

            protecting your money = guns.

            If you support individual freedom and don’t wish to unduly control your fellow man, then I stand corrected.

          • http://twitter.com/ErikVoorhees Erik Voorhees

            Shant – please don’t make things up. There are over 100,000 people around the world using Bitcoins, and unless you have evidence that the majority are using it for laundering or buying drugs then you’re just spreading misinformation. 

          • Drose

            Erik, he is not making things up.. get this, I think bitcoint is a neat idea,  AND aggree with Shant,  He is right, what else do you think it is used for at this point???  If 100,000 people use it WHAT are they bying?? You have no proof of what is being bough, good luck finding webpages that even take bitcoin for product (sure, maybe a few super small buisnesses), so you are not right as well.  Its the perfect format for Illegal activity so why would it NOT be used for that??  This idea has been writen about all over finicial blogs, everyone seems to aggree that most of the use so far is for illegal activitys.  Sorry dude, also, since Silk road went public I can assume many more people are buying drugs with them as well.

          • Richard Prescott

            Haters always gonna hate.

            I’m using bitcoins for instant global cash transfers – AND as temporary deposit to store some k in quasi cash in case the Dollar goes bust. I have never used them for anything illegal and don’t plan on doing so.

            But hey – it must be easy living in a black and white world.

            Sometimes I wonder who the real morons are in this world.

          • Drose

            they are you sir, you can turn a blind eye to EVERYONE else because you assume they act exactly as you do and then you would be an idiot.   So, I guess its just a coincidence that when the website silkroad (main website for drugs using bitcoin) got exposure online , sales went up on that site and bit coin went up in value??  This happend a few weeks back.  Richard Prescott, I guess it is easy living in your black and white world.   Also, to my defense, I can care less if people are using bitcoin 100% for illegal activity, so, cant use that against me eaither.

          • Drose

            I also have to state, once again, that you would have to be a complete idiot to think bitcoin is not being used for illegal uses, its perfect for it, are you that stupid to not realize that?? if so, then, 

          • http://twitter.com/ErikVoorhees Erik Voorhees

            Of course Bitcoin works well for illegal activity. Of course some illegal activity is likely occurring. However, those are very different statements than, “the majority of Bitcoin usage is only for illegal activity”. There is no evidence to substantial such a grandiose claim. 

          • Drose

            And how would there even be evidence if the bitcoin is so hard to trace??  So, since “evidence” is not an option I still think its safe to assume the previous.  I mean, substitute “bitcoin” with “unregistered weapon” in your post.  Sure, there is no evidence, but, being that one can not find evidence (do to quasi annonomous nature of bitcoin) how would one ever know?  Assumptions have to be held in this situation.

          • Anonymous

            Drose,

            Dollars, Euro, and Yen are also being used for illegal activities.  They too are pefect for it.  As is any fiat that can be passed around freely with anonymity.  That’s why criminals use aliases. 

          • YoureParanoid

            You would have to be a complete idiot to think that email isn’t being used  for illegal uses, its perfect for it. 

            And you’d have to be an idiot to think the cellphone is a cause of crime, to be restricted in use.

          • TomYonder

            Hey Richard I am pretty sure you are full of crap (aka lying) because its not possible to do instant cash transfers, anyone who uses bitcoin knows one of the main problems is how long it takes for your cash to turn to bit coin and vice versa, it takes days, and if the rate changes over those days all kinds of annoying things can go down, like, you loose your money.  I am sure this problem will be fixed as they get popular, but, how you are doing “instant” transfers is beyond me or anyone else using bitcoin

          • JamesPenny

            I just went to do an international money transfer through my bank TD, and it was going to cost me $30.  With bitcoin I can do it for free, and theres no middle man.  Cash can be used for crime, should we outlaw cash??

          • robert

            fyi, he never said the majority of users are using it for illegal activities, he just said some. stop putting words in his mouth douche

          • Wantosee

            There’s an interesting thing about the restrictive mechanisms of keep us safe from drugs.

            Drug laws are supposed to protect us from drugs, because drugs hurt your physical and mental health.  But the biggest threat that “drugs” cause is from the violence of the war against them!

            Portugal has done a great job reducing drugs by substituting punitive mechanisms with social support.

          • Wantosee
          • Jeffrey

            Bitcoins are just random strings of code being exchanged on a network… like anything it can be good or bad. 

            If people use a telephone to do crime, would you believe outlaw telephones, or bring them to court for the crime??

          • robert

            who the heck is talking about outlawing them?

  • http://twitter.com/jasonp Jason Preston

    I know I’m not exactly in the majority on this one (in tech circles) but Bitcoin is ultimately, essentially a scam, and while it might be funny to get turned away from customs because you’re using some funky weird currency replacement, I think that the less bitcoin is enabled by existing structures, the better. 

    Full details on bitcoin’s scamminess in this brilliant Quora answer: http://www.quora.com/Bitcoin/Is-the-cryptocurrency-Bitcoin-a-good-idea/answer/Adam-Cohen-2

    • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

      Jason– Please read “What has the government done with our money” by Murray Rothbard (a real economist) at http://mises.org/money.asp.

      That “Brilliant” Quora answer is a bit of propaganda that is only effective on people who respond more to tone than to logic.  Other than repeatedly asserting that bitcoin is a scam he is unable to make any real arguments against it that make any sense.

      For instance, he argues that deflation is bad.  This is easily disproven: Computers deflate every year.  Wait two years and get twice the computer for the same price. IS this bad?  Do people stop buying computers and just hoard their money instead?  Has the computer industry crumbled?  No.

      Inflation is theft of the money from private hands by politicians who use it to buy favors and ultimately line their own pockets.  The only people in favor of inflation are dishonest thieves.  No actual economist will claim deflation is bad…. Imagine an economy where people can buy more, where companies can produce more, and pay their employees less, and still make more profit, and that profit goes further!

      oh, the horror!

      • http://barrkel.blogspot.com/ barrkel

        Inflation is increase in the cost of living; you might be mistaking it with seigniorage, the “profit” from printing money. Inflation is necessary for a healthy economy; 0% change in the cost of living is virtually impossible to achieve over time, while deflation inhibits consumption and does weird things to incentives to create new businesses and ventures. For example, if there was strong deflation, why would a bank lend out money to an entrepreneur, when they could just hang on to that money and have it appreciate in real terms with no credit risk? The mistake you made is in a specific case vs the universal case. Computers do valuable things, depreciation is part of their cost of ownership. Apply the same principle as universal, and you require excessive profit returns from every new business venture.

        • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

          Hi Barrkel–

          You’re using the word inflation wrong.  Inflation is increase in the money supply, that does ultimately cause an increase in the cost of living.  

          Inflation is not necessary for a healthy economy.  Your arguments against deflation are the typical ones peddled by neo-keynesians who, generally, have an ulterior motive (which is to support politicians lining their pockets thru inflation.) 

          If you’d think it thru, you’d see that banks would be happier charging lower interest because they’d be getting paid back in more valuable money, so they’d still make loans.  Businesses would be profitable earlier and thus easier to start and make successful. 

          Frankly, these rationalizations are pretty much nonsensical and can only be repeated with a straight face if you’ve got a vested interest in devaluing people’s money.

          Inflation is theft.

          • Econ

            You need to take a few basic Econ classes. Inflation is not an increase in the money supply although it can be caused by an increase in the supply of money. Inflation is the rise in price of goods and services. This can just as easily be caused by scarcity. Further, your deflation example isn’t accurate. When a product loses value over time that’s depreciation, not deflation. That’s bad because it tendsto mean that the economy as a whole is shrinking.

            I could go on but seriously, take a few classes.

          • Guest

            You’re being very childish by asking him to go back to school. There are equally valid definitions of inflation. Have a look at the wikipedia article, the Austrian school asserts it’s an increase in money, others assert it’s a rise in the cost of living. 

          • John Nicholas

            and all this goes to show why economics is not a science …perception of value

          • Pervasive Miseducation

            You’re confusing “Inflation” with “Price Inflation”

            Inflation is any increase in the money supply. 

            Price Inflation is what happens when you increase the money supply without counterbalancing increases in demand/productivity. 

            More dollars chasing the same number of goods, basic supply and demand.  It would be astonishing such well educated people are so wrong on this, but our educational system goes out of its way to confuse the two terms as only one.

          • Matt

            see my post above regarding inflation/deflation.  You people are talking in terms of economics, but totally missing the terminology of complex systems theory, which is the only type of theory that has any meaning regarding such a unique entity as bitcoin.  It’s good because… its bad because… bla bla bla. Make the decision for yourself.   There is no such thing as a currency without plusses or minusses. Listing the plusses together might get us a little closer to the truth, but a list of plusses and minuses only sheds a little genuine light on system dynamics.  Asserting that drug dealing is illegal does not accomplish much either. Illegal is not equal to bad. See Robert Anton Wilson’s discussion of medical marajuana  on youtube.  After listing plusses and minuses, we need to somehow attribute some weight to each factor.  That would get us a little closer to the truth, but we would then disagree on those weights based upon various differences in our character.  Unfortunately for bitcoin haters, Mathematical studies of complex systems do show one concrete fact. Monopoly on currency is bad for the system as it is an example of restricting societal energy flow to a single entity, therefore connecting the fate of society to the fate of that entity. Very bad.. very bad, demonstrably a very bad circumstance in all kinds of complex systems. Our monetary system is a large scale failure waiting to happen (or happening already for that matter) because we are completely dependent upon one single connection. That damned dollar needs some competition something fierce. I’d say bitcoin is an excellent candidate for being that competitor. 

          • Matt

             All this stuff about inflation/deflation is meaningless because any assertions about whether one or the other is good or bad only have meaning if there is only a single currency in the economy. Studies in network theory show clearly that systems are more stable and robust  when there are multiple flow routes and network connections as opposed to just one.  See Mark buchanans “small worlds and the groundbreaking theory of networks” for hard-core complexity theory that smashes any shit that ignorant economists are dreaming up. Bitcoin has risen because of natural emergence. People sense a need for it because there is a currency monopoly problem which creates a system of a single currency, which is known by fact of the observations of large numbers of complex systems to be bad.  Fact that it has risen is evidence of its value.  Breaking the monopoly means breaking the dastardly monopoly price, and that’s what has to happen before the economy can ever be truly healthy.  Use bitcoin for what its good for, use cash for what its good for, gold, silver, stocks, bonds, etc for what they are good for.

            economists eshmonomists economists can’t predict the significance of bitcoin in the long term because the behavior of any fractal feedback network is extremely complex, and computationally irreducible. They can’t hardly predict the stock market, which they have studied for many years. You are all sucking into expert sucker theory. for every expert there is an equal and opposite expert. 

            Computational irreducibility is just one problem with turning to economists for answers.  The non-universality of value systems is another. A third one is that bitcoin is something unique that has not existed long enough to be properly studied.  Natural human error is another one. 

            The only large-scale meaningful indicator that we have is the hard fact that bitcoin has risen rapidly. This is an indicator that there is a need for it. I would trust emergence long before I would trust some economist with an unknown agenda and no genuine ability to predict computationally irreducible systems. 

            If government attacks bitcoin, it will be a clear indicator of their intent to rape the economy with their own currency.  Not very faith promoting while government is already losing peoples faith. Government has to maintain peoples faith to have any chance of survival. Clearly demonstrating their evil intents by attacking bitcoin would/will be very debasing in a world where many are already awaking to the destructive potential of government power. And if they attack bitcoin, something else that is even more difficult to fight will just pop up. Government has a real problem here. One day they will have to face the facts that the dominance of the social pyramid structure has been outdated… one way or another.  I’m afraid their strategy is no longer the most potent available.

        • Anonymous

          You sure do suck banker propaganda dick well.

          • http://barrkel.blogspot.com/ barrkel

            What kind of a loser replies to year-old comments with straight-up insults rather than addressing the argument?

      • http://blog.daryn.net daryn

        Like anything remotely political, each side has their brilliants truths that the other side calls ridiculous propaganda. I’m still skeptical about bitcoin, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to call you a douchebag, ignorant, or a sheep. That’s just bad form on your part.

        Also, you’ve confused depreciation and deflation — they are two different things. Go ask your “real economist”…

        • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

          Depreciation is what happens when an item loses value due to its use over time.  Deflation is what happens when the value of money increases over time, either because the money supply stays constant or shrinks, or the economy grows faster than the money supply. 

          One is addressing the value of real goods, the other the value of money.

          I was correct in my use of the terms in my example. 

          The reason I may come off as insulting is that I have little patience for profoundly stupid or dishonest people.  Someone repeating an allegation of criminal activity like this is not worthy of respect an honest person would deserve. 

          • Guest

            The lady doth protest too much!

            Someone is coming off as profoundly stupid or dishonest and it’s you. You don’t agree with Adam Cohen so he’s an idiot?
            We like real, reasoned, polite discussions here, not name calling and not bad logic like comparisons of currency and real goods as if they’re the same. Please.

          • http://twitter.com/the_madman Marcus Harrison

            Uhm, I hate to tell you, but… you’re comparing currency and real goods every time you *buy something*. Value/worth are valid methods of comparison.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mlawrence Martin Lawrence

      You’re a fool, Jason.  Sorry.  :(

    • Anonymous

      Maybe it is my poor english (I am from Sweden). Doesn´t “scam” imply a “trick” of some kind, that someone is hiding something or being dishonest? Even if there are problems and uncertainties with bitcoins, I fail to see how it can be a “scam”!?

      • http://seoagencies.com seo agencies

        it’s like the penny auction sites, not illegal…but there is the inherent aspect to it

        • http://ebpp.com ebpp

          yeah like quibid etc

    • Will Grant

      The Quora post, which I’ve followed for a while, seems to be a very two-sided argument with both points of view and not a litany against BC at all. 

    • John Galt

      Nice try, NSA.

    • Michael

      You mean I can’t convert my Flooz to Bitcoins??

    • Anonymous

      Jason Preston is essentially a retard who should have his rights as a human being revoked.

    • Jaime Moksha

      I love the fact that your idiocy has been memorialized for future generations. Bitcoin is not a scam.

      • hairspray2

        hehe, so true. The internet is forever, about as eternal as the blockchain.

  • Alfonso

    Nefario love you man!  You are crazy enough to pull off a stunt like this!

    Anyone looking to join Bitcoin movement, please sign up using my referral!
    https://CampBX.com/register.php?r=hfMZRIfip6h

  • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

    America– where the best and the brightest get turned away at the borders by the government.  Is it no wonder the brain drain has already begun?

  • Trader Tim

    Most people who think bitcoin is a scam haven’t read the whitepaper or the wiki dispelling common misconceptions. This just underscores the general “feed it to me” attitude that prevails in our ‘great’ society. These are the same people who told us geeks that “Nobody will buy things over the internet” in 1990. They were wrong then, and they are doubly wrong now.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/34237903/Bit-Coin-Whitepaper

    https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Myths

    You owe it to yourself to read the above. Download the client, let it run for a while to update the blockchain (It will take some time, as we’re talking about 500MB of data.) and discover what it means to truly free your money.

    • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

      Believing an ideology is easier than thinking.  The “brilliant” propaganda making bitcoin out to be a scam is “brilliant” because it agrees with the leftist ideology that is already predisposed against money holding its value.  

      Secretly, I suspect it is because they want old people’s savings to be destroyed by inflation, and poor people to have trouble making ends meet because prices go up faster than wages (because government spending goes up faster than the economy.)

      But that’s just a suspicion.

  • http://twitter.com/ivanhoe011 Ivan Dilber

    I was always fascinated how custom agents never miss the chance to go through all the personal stuff and copy all the data, before not letting someone in…

    • http://twitter.com/Freemanix Radek Svoboda

      What will happen if I refuse to decrypt my notebook at customs?

      • Pervasive Miseducation

        you’ll go to jail, and they’ll call you a terrorist.

        What, were you expecting them to care about your rights?  I think we’re pretty clearly beyond that.

        • Codepath

          Yeah, they’d have you on a black-plane midnight flight to Syria before you could ask for a drink of water.

        • Codepath

          It’s a good thing he wasn’t trying to get into Arizona.

  • http://blog.daryn.net daryn

    I was turned away driving into Canada when I was in college. I had $60 in cash and a credit card, but no hotel room, and they didn’t think that was sufficient (though I was just going up to party for a night, then sleep in my car or go camping).  

    I can see how immigration would be skeptical of someone trying to enter the country to do business but lacking hard funds. Depending on how Nefario described his plans to the officer, it could have easily sounded quite suspicious and potentially like a money laundering scheme. Maybe it sucks that we aren’t there yet with bitcoins, but if his goals were simply to get into the country, he could have traded for some USD before coming over. 

    • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

      I get to travel all over the world. I get hassled going into the USA and Britian (and once Canada) by this kind of nonsense. The rest of the world has heard of the credit card.

      When I asked my bank for the best way to take money overseas — expecting them to sell me travelers checks– they told me that I should just take my debit card and use that. 

      No border guards have asked me how much funds I have in the last decade… and if they did, I could just show them my cards.  

      If they turned me away, well, that would be the loss to their country of the money I was going to spend there. 

    • http://www.forgetthesun.com courtneyj

      I wonder if he had a return flight booked? If he had a clear exit there probably would have been no questions.

  • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

    Also, questioning him for 5-6 hours is completely inappropriate.  IF they didn’t want to let him in they could turn him away and get him set up on a flight.  If he has to wait 5-6 hours for his flight, that’s fine, but kidnapping him without cause and then harassing him is just bad form. 

    These keystone kops types are running the country… ever wonder why tourism is not the business it used to be? 

    • Codepath

      As much as it pains me to agree with you (after reading your insulting rants and personal attacks against people who were merely voice a differing opinion to yours), yes, if it was already decided that they were going to send him back then there was no reason to hold him further.

      However, these are customs security personnel. Once he started to explain even the basic concept of what BitCoin is he may as well have been speaking as Chewbacca. I still can’t get my wife to stop panicking and hitting the delete key every time an error message pops up. She complains about an error message and when I walk in the room, there she is. Banging away on that delete key just as fast as she can. She just doesn’t get it. Go figure.

  • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

    I’ve been experimenting and learning about Bitcoin for only a couple of months.  But I think it holds a lot of promise.  It has some very valuable properties, that other currencies lack.  It’s value, like all modern currency, relies on a social convention that a scarce item (in this case, a digital one) has value.  The community of people who value Bitcoin is small today, but growing steadily.

    Things that you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t with any other currency:

    – Hold value anonymously.  No bank or government can take it away from you without your consent (or even prove that you own it).
    – Transfer value to someone else without the approval of a central authority.  You need not even have a direct connection to the other party to do so (all transactions are “broadcast” on the Bitcoin network).
    – “Practically anonymous” transactions.  Transactions are “traceable” – and so not absolutely anonymous.  But each user can create as many identities as they want – it’s impossible to distinguish transferring money to yourself from transferring money to another party).
    – Bitcoins are being produced at the rate of 300 per hour today (about $5,200 per hour) by Bitcoin “miners” – but ultimately limited to just under 21 million BTC.  So, the money supply is increasing rapidly now – but is designed to slow down to a near standstill over the next 20 years.  This is the “anti-inflation” provision of the currency.
    – Bitcoin are nearly impossible to counterfeit.
    In 2011, Bitcoin has shown itself to be highly volatile in exchange value.  Most people holding it are “speculators”.  But I would venture that a growing group of people will begin to accept it as acceptable payment for goods (digital and otherwise).

    I started accepting Bitcoin for rent at StartPad, and continue to be happy to do so.

    Stop by StartPad on Thursday for lunch, and I’ll be happy to give a Bitcoin tutorial…

    • Anonymous

      Hey Mike, I’ll actually be in the neighborhood Thursday … I’ll plan on being there at noon with my brown bag if that works for you. Hope to see GeekWire readers there, too. 811 First Avenue #480 right?

      • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

        Excellent.  BTW – anyone else want to stop by is welcome to join us for our weekly brownbag lunch.  This week – I think we’ll be talking about Bitcoin!

        811 First Ave, Suite 480 at 12:15 each Thursday.
        (206) 388-3466

  • http://openid.anonymity.com/bitcoinmoney Anony Mouse

    How would customs classify this?  If his reason for visiting was to collaborate with others on a business in a coworking space — is that coming to the U.S. for “work”?  Except in this case, he is not in the U.S. working and obtaining a salary but instead is paying expenses and participating with a team that would likely benefit greatly from the experience.

  • bob

    The article is a little deceptive…..The fact that he had such small amount of money may have peaked their curiosity, however I think the real reason that he was sent home wasn’t that he didn’t have enough money to cover the trip….it would have been that he was sort of going to work in the US on the Visa Waiver…BIG no no.

    • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

      You can work for *yourself* on a Business Visa (including the Visa Waiver program).  He was not going to be employed by anyone.  Allowed activities are conferences, business meetings, and independent research.

      I think they didn’t believe he had enough financial support – and they didn’t understand that BTC is a negotiable currency.

  • http://twitter.com/AstroKev AstroKev

    Bitcoin seems pretty promising for a few things.  One obvious one is microtransactions which have been an issue for a long time due to the fees.  Another is a decentralized virtual currency alternative to Zynga credit, Facebook credits, Linden Dollars and other “gamer currencies”.  In many games such as World of Warcraft, people often pay for the “time required to obtain thing xyz”.  Bitcoin introduces a time component via it’s intriguing mining concept.  Will it overtake the dollar?  I don’t think so.  Will it find an interesting niche in the virtual world?  I do think so.  

    • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

      Bitcoin actually doesn’t work great for micro-transactions.  The reason being that there is a pretty high built-in transaction latency.  It generally takes about an hour before you’re *sure* that a transaction completed.

      I believe what most micro-payment systems will do is keep a balance for you which you can load up with Bitcoin, and then just account for transactions entirely within their internal accounting system system (until you request to make a withdrawal of funds).

  • http://twitter.com/adrianoconnor Adrian O’Connor

    Would you really be surprised that your geeky left-field currency is not understood or accepted by a bunch of security personnel? You shouldn’t. Besides, this guy should probably have had regular old traveller checks as a fall-back, in case something bad happened (though he probably thought $600 was enough).

    Also, look at it from the point of view of the customs official — you’ve got somebody trying to get in to the country with enough cash to last a few days at most — (which happens to be enough time to find a job and disappear from the radar) — who claims they want to stay for a few months. With their non-academic, non-entrepreneurial world view, what do you think the customs official is going to think?

    • http://profiles.google.com/jyurgin frederic bastiat

      Currency is currency, whether you approve of it or not. By your logic, nobody should be allowed into America if they had $600 USD and $9000 euros. It just doesn’t hold up.

      Looking at it from the point of a customs official, I’d think he’d want to be patrolling the southern border where people are trying to enter the country illegally rather than an airport hassling young entrepreneurs.

      • robert

        so my magic beans are currency because i say they are? euros are established, while bitcoins are still establishing, its completely understandable that the customs officials didnt believe him, when was the last time you entered a restaurant and saw a “we accept visa, master card, and bitcoin” sign? or a hotel that takes cash and bitcoin? most major banks would exchange euros and every international airport ive ever been in has at least one place to exchange currency such as euros, still have yet to see bitcoins there.

  • Anonymous

    Customs Agents are idiots. Just about as useless as the TSA.
    http://www.web-privacy.au.tc

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6G3ZZJCHOLYP3S5CRCIHQ7WDSE MVIM

    I don’t understand why they care how much money you have on your person. Who honestly carries thousands of dollars on them for months at a time? Moreover, it’s really none of their business anyway.

    • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

      There are some valid reason for this.  We don’t want people entering the country who:

      – Will need to work illegally to support themselves.
      – Could cause a drain on our social services.

      The US no longer accepts “tired, poor, and huddled masses”, unfortunately.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rudy-Ruiz/100001579191569 Rudy Ruiz

    thnx for the article, this proves that  Dr. Nefarious was comiting fraud and entering the USA for somethng  other than a  vacation.  VWP only lets you come in if you are a visitor for pleasure or working for a “foriegn company” and being paid by them.  if you article is true he was being paid by a US company in violation of the law.  excelent work by the the CBP guys and girls.  job well done.  Fraud  against US citizens was avoided again.

    • Codepath

      um…except that…Nefarious paid to US company for the work space, not the other way around. He does not work for the US company and nowhere in the article does it say that StartPad was paying him for anything. So basically he was acting as a freelance consultant who pays his clients for the privilege of helping them.

      I guess you missed that little point. It’s okay; it happens. No biggie.

    • http://faves.com/users/mike mckoss

      He leased space from StartPad for his own workspace.  He had arranged to meet with other developers in the spirit of sharing ideas about Bitcoin businesses.  There was absolutely no employment agreement or contracting arrangement of any kind.

  • Sobek

    Bitcoin, as a cryptocurrency, has naver had it so good when it comes to popularity. It becomes widely accepted throughout the world. However it gathered global attention, especially since the beginning of 2011, still there is much to be done to help this wonderful cryptocurrency to be wiedespread. Internet portals and services, such as http://www.bitcoin.travel and http://www.bitcoin.org are created to popularize this decentralized currency. There are more and more businesses, who are able to see the potential of bitcoin, therefore it gathers mora and more acceptance with every day. Bitcoin.travel is a site with directory of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, stores, accepting bitcoin around the world.

  • http://twitter.com/ErikVoorhees Erik Voorhees

    Yes sorry Nefario! Only fiat monopoly money is permitted in the USSA. Take your “free-market silliness” back with you!

  • http://GeekAtSea.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=display_name&utm_campaign=disqus_display Kirill Zubovsky

    Cool story, but that’s it. If the guy was seriously trying to enter US with a promise to pay two months of stay with essentially I.O.Us , he must be delusional. This is not to say that bitcoin isn’t a good idea, but it’s like him trying to enter China with a bag of weed, and then trying to explain that it’s simply a fertilizer.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jyurgin frederic bastiat

      bitcoins aren’t IOU’s moron

    • http://twitter.com/ErikVoorhees Erik Voorhees

      Bitcoins are not IOU’s. A better comparison would be if he came the the US and had made arrangements to pay some people in silver coins. 

  • Anonymous

    Customs needs to learn that bitcoins ARE cash!

    I believe that bitcoins are going to change the world. I recommend that everyone read up about them. If you are interested in buying/selling bitcoins, I personally use and recommend http://www.tradehill.com – they have lower fees than the main exchange (mtgox), and their website seems more professional IMHO.

    Also, I have a code that will get you 10% off trading fees there for life: TH-R1168

    Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    Customs needs to learn that bitcoins ARE cash!

    I believe that bitcoins are going to change the world. I recommend that everyone read up about them. If you are interested in buying/selling bitcoins, I personally use and recommend http://www.tradehill.com – they have lower fees than the main exchange (mtgox), and their website seems more professional IMHO.

    Also, I have a code that will get you 10% off trading fees there for life: TH-R1168

    Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    Customs needs to learn that bitcoins ARE cash!

    I believe that bitcoins are going to change the world. I recommend that everyone read up about them. If you are interested in buying/selling bitcoins, I personally use and recommend http://www.tradehill.com – they have lower fees than the main exchange (mtgox), and their website seems more professional IMHO.

    Also, I have a code that will get you 10% off trading fees there for life: TH-R1168

    Enjoy!

  • stretchnutz

    Dr. Paul: “Is gold money?”
    Ben Bernanke: ” …. no. ”

    This is the same situation, only with a customs agent instead of the Fed Chairman and bitcoin instead of gold.

  • Derek Pater

    I would have tried to get others to bring cash in, selling some bit-coin to trusted parties close by for cash, just imagine, because he was in a hard place, cornered

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