This is the most Bitcoin-friendly city in the world
Five years ago, not many people knew much about cryptocurrencies or blockchain. Now millions of people, companies and institutions around the world are investing in crypto and believing in its future. For them, crypto is a long-term investment.
During an exclusive interview with DailyCoin, Rogier Eijkelhof, the co-founder of Arnhem the City, said that cryptocurrency should not be preserved; it should be viewed as money for everyday use.
The founders of Arnhem Bitcoincity are crypto enthusiasts who have inspired hundreds of businesses and locals to use Bitcoin in their daily lives. Bitcoin’s popularity increased steadily in Arnhem from 2017 to 2020 when a regulation by the Dutch Central Bank came into force. In order for Bitcoin to thrive, Bitcoincity’s co-founder is encouraging people to use cryptocurrency for their daily purchases whenever possible.
Arnhem Bitcoincity is located in the Netherlands and is considered the most Bitcoin-friendly city in the world. It was founded in 2014 by the four crypto enthusiasts Patrick van der Meijde, Annet de Boer, Rogier Eijkelhof and Otto de Voogd. Since then, many Arnhem business owners have been inspired to accept payments in Bitcoin and the city has become less dependent on banks.
Convince customers to use Bitcoin
Eijkelhof’s interest in Bitcoin began to grow in 2012 when he read the revolutionary Satoshi whitepaper. In 2012 it was still impossible to buy anything with crypto, so the four friends thought it would be nice to change something and pay with Bitcoin – even if only for small things like coffee or beer.
“I’m very excited about Bitcoin, even more so now than in 2012. As I learned about crypto, I also learned more about the financial system and when I realized how messy it is, I thought we needed an alternative.” And cryptocurrency could deliver it. ”The initiative started with 15 small businesses accepting bitcoin payments in May 2014. The first ones were the hardest to convince, explains Eijkelhof:
“At first we only targeted business owners, but some of them linked Bitcoin to crime and drug trafficking. We explained that crypto is a new, free payment method that you can use to pay for normal things. You are not bound by any contract, the system is free to use, and there is nothing to lose. People were very positive when they found out how easy it was to work and they got their money right away so there was no downside to accepting bitcoin at all. We said we would bring new customers to the business with monthly Bitcoin meetings that take place in a different new location (bar, cafe, restaurant) every month. As Bitcoin got more exposure, it became easier to get more merchants on board. ”Convincing a regular customer to install a Bitcoin wallet, in which he had to secure the keys and often check the currency exchange, was difficult. So BitKassa was born – an easy-to-use, free payment processor for bitcoins that made it easy to take payments and then transfer them to bank accounts in euros.
“Of course we encourage people to keep their bitcoins instead of exchanging them for euros. In the end, a closed Bitcoin economy is the best there is. But the reality for most business owners is that they still have to pay for all of their expenses in euros, so we made the switch for them, ”says Eijkelhof.
In Arnhem, everything was great until the National Bank of the Netherlands passed legislation in May 2020. Since then, whenever a company converts crypto into fiat on behalf of a third party, it has to obtain a license from the Dutch National Bank. This is associated with enormous costs and various legal measures.
The peak in the number of transactions and transactions carried out with Bitcoin was reached at the end of 2019: 145 stores in Arnhem alone, as well as online shops and services across Europe, which made a total of 500-600 merchants.
Unfortunately, most of the companies refused to accept Bitcoin transactions because of the new legislation. There are currently around 40 companies in Arnhem that still accept and hold Bitcoin payments.
Arnhem Bitcoincity was never a commercial place and the project was born due to the creators’ passion for crypto. They never made money convincing others to use Bitcoin.
The four friends are also against the regulation for ideological reasons. Rogier stated:
“I think Bitcoin exists to get rid of third parties and authorities. In order to be able to pay with Bitcoin now, we had to comply with this huge regulation. “
Ultimate goal of buying groceries with bitcoin
The ultimate goal (before the 2020 legislation) was to be able to conduct all financial transactions in Bitcoin – to live in Arnhem with Bitcoin alone. Before the legislation it was possible; Supermarkets, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, pubs, clothing stores, dentists, hairdressers, flower shops, auto stores, gas stations accepted Bitcoin. Now there are two supermarkets, a hairdresser, a flower shop, a few restaurants, cafes, bars and canteens, so you can still do a lot with Bitcoin, but not as much as in 2019.
The importance of Bitcoin is that it takes power and dependency from major institutions, authorities and central banks and brings power and autonomy back into people’s pockets.
“I am now responsible for my money, no one can freeze, censor or block it, and that is an incredible quality of technology. Many are not fully aware of this important aspect of crypto, but as the problems with the euro and dollar persist, more people will see the benefits. I see great risks in the Eurosystem, inflation is already higher than expected, and those who save euros will quickly notice that their purchasing power is falling.
Although they think their money is safe in the bank account, in reality the value is not the case. The actual purchasing power is falling. The more this will trigger people, the more they will accept alternatives like Bitcoin, which are a great solution to protect themselves from the unlimited money printing by the central banks, ”clarifies Eijkelhof.
How to Help the Crypto Economy Thrive
The co-founder of Arnhem Bitcoincity said it was difficult to convince bitcoin enthusiasts to actually use crypto and pay with it, since the mindset of most bitcoiners is, “I’m not going to spend bitcoin, I’ll keep it because it is even more is worth later. “Eijkelhof believes it is more productive to spend crypto than just hold it for years:
“I think if everyone is holding their bitcoins, then bitcoin is going nowhere. For cryptocurrency to make sense, you have to use it and put it into practice. I spend euros on bitcoins and later I spend bitcoins in stores. Most of the time I get more groceries or whatever I buy as a result than if I were to hold onto euros and spend them. So I always save money by spending bitcoins instead of euros. ”The role of bitcoin is ultimately up to the user, but the reality for many people is still that bitcoin is viewed as a tool to raise more fiat money. Bitcoin’s real purpose is not to get more euros or dollars – it is to escape fiat.
Eijkelhof suggests buying groceries not with cash, but buying them with bitcoin, and when you get home buy more bitcoin with that cash that you didn’t spend in the supermarket. It’s as simple as it sounds and is helping the Bitcoin economy thrive.
“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 backwards, Bitcoin is my exit plan, I am selling all of my Euros and Bitcoin is the end game. I want to help people understand that Bitcoin is not just hype that will pass. I think holding euros is a bad strategy due to inflation and the currency’s value will go down. So you are better off getting into bitcoin now than waiting and holding the fiat currency. ”There are many more cities that are considered crypto-friendly. Most of them are still based in Europe and the US, but the list also includes Melbourne, which adopted cryptocurrencies relatively early.
On the downside
- Even though more and more people are becoming aware of cryptocurrency, its purpose and how it is used, the number of people using crypto for daily payments is still relatively small.
- Crypto is here to stay, especially as large institutions are showing strong interest in it too; The hope is that cryptocurrency will become more accessible in people’s mindsets.
Why should you care?
Influencing local businesses to accept crypto as a means of payment is a step further towards a society that is less dependent on banks and government agencies. Cryptocurrency is as valuable as currency, not just as an investment. Using crypto to buy products or services adds value.
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