This Is the World’s Most Bitcoin-Friendly City By DailyCoin
Five years ago, not many people knew much about cryptocurrencies or blockchain. Today, crypto is a popular investment option for millions of individuals, companies, and institutions worldwide. They believe in the future. They see crypto as a long-term investment.
During an exclusive interview with DailyCoin, Rogier Eijkelhof, the co-founder of Arnhem the City, said that cryptocurrency is not to be preserved; it should be regarded as money for everyday use.
Arnhem Bitcoincity was founded by crypto enthusiasts who incited hundreds of local business owners and citizens to begin using Bitcoin daily. From 2017 to 2020, Bitcoin’s popularity in Arnhem grew steadily. This was after a regulation by the Dutch central bank. To make Bitcoin thrive, Bitcoincity’s co-founder encourages people to use cryptocurrency for their daily purchases whenever possible.
Arnhem Bitcoincity is located in the Netherlands and has been known as the world’s most Bitcoin-friendly city. In 2014, four crypto-enthusiasts, Patrick van der Meijde and Annet de Boer founded it. Rogier Eijkelhof and Otto de Voogd also helped to found the city. Many Arnhem businessmen have been inspired to accept Bitcoin payments since then. This has helped the city become less dependent on banks.
Convincing Customers to Start Using Bitcoin
Eijkelhof’s interest in Bitcoin started to grow in 2012 when he read the revolutionary Satoshi white paper. In 2012 it was still impossible to buy anything with crypto, and that’s how the four friends thought it would be nice to make a change and start paying with Bitcoin — even if it was just for small things like coffee or beer.
“I’m very enthusiastic about Bitcoin, now even more than back in 2012. As I was learning about crypto, I also found out more about the financial system, and once I realized how messed up it is, I thought we need an alternative and cryptocurrency could provide it.”
The initiative began with 15 small businesses accepting Bitcoin payments in May 2014. The first few were the most difficult to convince, Eijkelhof explains:
“At first we just approached business owners, however, some of them were associating bitcoin with crime and drug dealing. The new cryptocurrency payment system is free and you can use it for everyday purchases. You’re not locked into any kind of contract, the system is free to use, there is nothing to lose. When they discovered how easy it was to accept bitcoin, they were extremely positive. Also they received their funds immediately. Monthly bitcoin meetups are held in new venues every month. As bitcoin was receiving more attention, it got easier to get more merchants aboard.”
Convincing a regular customer to install a Bitcoin wallet, where they have to secure the keys and often check about the currency exchange, was difficult. That’s how BitKassa was born — an easy-to-use, free payment processor for Bitcoins, that made it simple to accept payments and then get them transferred to bank accounts in euros.
“Of course we encourage people to keep their bitcoins instead of exchanging them for euros. The best option is a closed cryptocurrency economy. But the reality for most business owners is that they have to pay all their expenses still in euros, so we did the conversion for them,”
Everything went great until the May 2020 legislation from the Dutch central bank. Every company that wishes to convert crypto into fiat in the name of third parties must now obtain a Dutch bank license. It is a costly process that requires a variety of legal steps.
Late 2019 saw the highest number of transactions with bitcoin by businesses: only 145 Arnhem businesses, but there were many more online shops and services across Europe. The total reached between 500 and 600 merchants.
Most businesses are refusing to take bitcoin payments due to new laws. There are currently 40 Arnhem businesses that accept and keep bitcoin payments.
Arnhem Bitcoincity was never a commercial venue, and the project was born because of the creators’ passion for crypto, they never made money from convincing others to use bitcoin.
The regulation is also opposed by the friends, who are ideologically motivated. Rogier explained:
“I think bitcoin exists to get rid of the third party and authorities. Now, in order to pay with bitcoin, we had to comply with this huge regulation.”
Ultimate Goal to Buy Groceries with Bitcoin
The ultimate goal (before the 2020 legislation) was to be able to do all financial transacting in Bitcoin — to live in Arnhem on Bitcoin alone. The ability to accept Bitcoin was already possible prior to the 2020 legislation. There are now two supermarkets and a florist, as well as a hairdresser and a flower shop. You can also use Bitcoin in a variety of restaurants, cafés, bars, lunchrooms and other places, although not nearly as many as you could do with it.
Bitcoin has the advantage of removing power and dependence from large institutions, authorities and central banks. It puts power back in the people’s hands.
“I’m now in charge of my own money, nobody can freeze, censor or block it, and that’s an incredible feature of technology. Many aren’t fully aware of this significant aspect of crypto, but with the ongoing trouble of euros and dollars, more people will start realizing the benefits. My concern is that the Euro system is a dangerous one. Inflation is much higher than most people anticipate, and anyone who has saved euro will quickly realize the decline in their purchasing power.
Even though they think their money in the bank account is safe, the value, in fact, isn’t. Actual purchasing power is decreasing. The more this will trigger people, the more they will accept alternatives like Bitcoin that are a great solution to protect themselves from the unlimited money printing that is done by the central banks,”
How to Help the Crypto Economy Thrive
The co-founder of Arnhem Bitcoincity said that it’s difficult to convince Bitcoin enthusiasts to actually use crypto and pay with it because the mindset of most Bitcoiners is “I’m not going to spend Bitcoin, I will hold it because it will value even more later on.” Eijkelhof believes it’s more productive to spend crypto, instead of just holding it for years:
“I think if everyone is holding their Bitcoins, then Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere. It is essential that you use cryptocurrency and make it work in your daily life. First, I buy Bitcoins for euros and later spend them in shops. Most of the time it gives me more groceries or whatever I’m buying than if I was holding on to euros and spending them. So I always save money by spending Bitcoins instead of euros.”
The role of Bitcoin is ultimately up to the user, however, still the reality for many people is that Bitcoin is seen as a tool to procure more fiat money. The real purpose of Bitcoin is not to get more euros or dollars — it’s to escape from fiat.
Eijkelhof suggests that instead of buying groceries with cash, you should buy them with Bitcoin and when you get home, buy more Bitcoin with this cash you didn’t spend in the supermarket. It’s as simple as it sounds and helps the Bitcoin economy prosper.
“When people ask, what is your exit plan, when are you going to sell the Bitcoins? I always say: No, you’ve got it all backward, Bitcoin is my exit plan, I’ll sell all my euros and Bitcoin is the end game. To help others understand why Bitcoin isn’t just hype, but a real thing that can be embraced by everyone. I think that holding euros is a bad strategy because of the inflation and the currency’s value is going down. So you’re better off moving into Bitcoin now than waiting and holding the fiat currency.”
There are many more cities considered crypto-friendly. While most of these companies are still located in the US and Europe, there is also Melbourne on the list. Melbourne was one of the first to adopt cryptocurrency.
On The Flipside
- Even though more people are aware of cryptocurrency, its purpose, and its use, the number of people using crypto for daily payments is still relatively low.
- Cryptocurrency will not be going away, particularly since major institutions show strong interest. It is hoped that crypto will become more easily accessible to the general public.
Why Should You Care?
Local businesses should accept crypto payments to make society more independent of banks and government. Not only is it an investment, but cryptocurrency can be as valuable as money. The cryptocurrency’s value will increase if used for purchasing products and services.
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