Today, we’ll describe the main global hotspots where crypto-enthusiasts should feel at home
As the global value of crypto assets nears $760 billion, becoming an increasingly popular investment tool, and a number of companies all over the world pay salaries in crypto, digital currencies are still not equally welcomed. Governments of various countries react differently to the decentralized industry they cannot properly regulate and control.
Some countries are banning bitcoin transactions and crypto-trading altogether. Even within those territories that authorize the usage of digital coins, some districts are more conservative and reluctant than others.
Known as the Dutch self-proclaimed ‘Bitcoin City’, Arnhem has dozens of merchants who accept BTC. Some of these establishments even provide discounts to those paying in crypto. Payments can be made with the help of BitKassa – the largest Bitcoin payment processor in the Netherlands. In 2014, Arnhem hosted the legendary Bitcoincity event where around 4.749769 BTC (1,977 euros) was spent via 96 payments in bars, restaurants, and cafes. A record one-day spending was truly inspiring. Another thing is that now the number of people eager to spend their BTC on real-life items is steadily declining. It’s only natural since Bitcoin’s value surged above $34,000 this year. Most people consider it extravagant to spend such a valuable asset on beer and coffee.
Singapore is a global hub for crypto-related businesses. There are currently 397 blockchain startups registered there, and the number is growing. The crypto boom is empowered by governmental enthusiasm. Last December, a group of Singaporean government agencies launched the Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme (SBIP) – a research project with $12 million SGD (about $8.9 million USD) in funding. The program focused on the use of blockchain in trade, logistics, and the supply chain. In addition, the DBS Digital Exchange launched with the backing of Southeast Asia’s largest lender, DBS Group Holdings.
Moreover, in Singapore, businesses and individuals who hold cryptocurrencies for long-term investment purposes are not taxed as there is no capital gains tax in Singapore per se. Many businesses like the night club Skyline, the first cashless café, Ducatus Café, KOPITIAM foodcourts, and many more merchants accepted crypto payments. In 2020, Ryde – Singapore’s first carpooling app – also announced it would let customers pay for rides with bitcoin.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Right now, about 115 merchants in Buenos Aires and its province accept cryptocurrency payments. There are also a dozen crypto-ATMs in the capital of Argentina. Since 2019, Argentinian state public transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) can be topped up using Bitcoin too.
Buenos Aires is also home to the fintech startup Ripio (originally called BitPagos) that allows consumers in Argentina to buy Bitcoin at more than 8,000 convenience stores. Today, Ripio offers users a cryptocurrency exchange, a software “wallet” for storing their digital assets, and a service that uses Ethereum smart contracts to facilitate peer-to-peer lending.
Small Swiss town Zug is home to “Crypto Valley” – a cluster of companies and foundations dealing with blockchain technology and digital currencies. In 2018, there were about 450 blockchain/crypto companies active in the region. Amidst the pandemic, the number of firms registered in the Crypto Valley has risen to 919. Not all of them are situated in Zug, though. Other hotspots of the Crypto Valley include Zurich, Liechtenstein, Geneva, Ticino, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Lucerne, and Bern. The top 50 among these crypto firms have a combined value of $37.5B, with the Ethereum-network alone accounting for $25.3B. Zug, one of the smallest of Switzerland’s cantons, has one of the country’s lowest tax rates, which attracts hundreds of global companies.
In 2016, the Swiss Municipality of Zug conducted a bold experiment, accepting Bitcoin as payment for municipal services. This was the first case of a government agency officially accepting cryptocurrencies. Starting this year, taxes in the Canton of Zug can be paid using the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ether due to the collaboration with Bitcoin Suisse.
San Francisco, USA
Home to cryptocurrency trading platforms Coinbase and Kraken, San Francisco has become a place for many technological centers including those focused on blockchain development and cryptocurrencies. The city hosts the annual Bitcoin Conference, Blockchain Week, and numerous other crypto-related events and meetups. There are 235 Bitcoin ATMs in and around San Francisco, with many of them supporting other cryptocurrencies like Ether, Dash, Litecoin, etc. About 30 merchants and services accept crypto payments in the city as well.
Canada is playing a huge role in the advancement of blockchain technologies. The country legally allows the use of digital and cryptocurrencies. Even the bank of Canada once attempted to adopt blockchain technology within their banking system. Though the project was put on hold until more research data, the Bank dived deeper into the central bank digital currencies (CBDC) concept, and it ran a pilot project on R3’s distributed ledger tech solution Corda. The project was live-tested in a cross-border settlement trial with the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 2019.
Therefore, the capital of such a progressive country is another crypto hub on our list. Toronto has a thriving start-up ecosystem that has produced many leading projects, such as Ethereum, Cosmos, and Aion. Torontonians and guests of the city can spend Bitcoin at Grossman’s Tavern located in Kensington Market, Toronto Coach Terminal, Downtown Dental Hygiene Clinic, and many more merchants and consulting businesses. There are 345 Bitcoin ATMs in the Canadian capital too.
Prague, Czech Republic
In 2018, the Czech capital was named the most crypto-friendly city in the world and the best place to spend cryptocurrencies, according to a study published by Fortune Jack. At that time, Prague had 154 venues (bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas, attractions, and shopping centers) where Bitcoin was accepted as a method of payment. This also included a dozen ATMs where people could withdraw cash from digital currency accounts. Moreover, some services such as Flatio allow renting an apartment in Prague using Bitcoin or even buy a property with crypto.
In the Holešovice district of Prague, you may also find the “Institute of Cryptoanarchy” Paralelní Polis – where like-minded individuals meet to nurture the plans for an alternative society with greater privacy and greater personal freedoms empowered by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. This organization hosts the annual Hackers Congress.
In 2019, the Slovenian capital became the European leader in crypto-acceptance, with 314 crypto-friendly venues scattered across the city. It’s possible thanks to GoCrypto, a global crypto payments network. The number of Bitcoin ATMs is only 10, though. Hence, you might want to purchase crypto in some other way while visiting Ljubljana.
Another attraction for all crypto fans is BTC City in Ljubljana. It is one of the largest shopping, business, leisure, and innovation centers in Europe. The shopping center includes over 500 stores and enables all of its visitors to pay for the services and products in the BTC City area with selected cryptocurrencies via the EliPay payment system. Meanwhile, crypto and blockchain solutions, products, and apps are being tested there in BTC City Living Lab with various strategic partners and start-ups.
The Blockchain Centre in Vilnius is an international hub for networking, education, professional services, startup acceleration, and blockchain-related public events. Many crypto businesses choose Vilnius as their place of operations due to open market policies, clear and transparent cryptocurrency regulation, low prices, advanced IT infrastructure, and entrepreneurial spirit. Those who want to spend their crypto assets somewhere would be thrilled to visit a few restaurants, service companies, various shops, beauty salons, and even a dental clinic accepting Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Ripple, Dash, Nem, and Steem through the CopPay platform.
Crypto is most welcome in the whole country, not just the capital. Actually, Lithuania recently announced it was going to issue the first central bank-produced digital coin in the eurozone. The Bank of Lithuania has already released 24,000 collector tokens created using blockchain technology. Although having more of a numismatic value, LBCOIN is an important milestone in adopting crypto within the country.
The German capital has already become a major center for the development of cryptocurrency systems. It’s home to the cryptocurrency IOTA and EOS, a blockchain operating system for commercial-scale decentralized applications.
Germany on the whole has recently attracted a lot of talent and funding for its crypto-projects. The national government legalized some electronic-only securities, namely paperless bearer bonds. Since the beginning of 2020, the new legislation also permitted banks to store and custody cryptocurrencies. BaFin received about 40 applications from various banks to participate.
Meanwhile, Berlin has a lot of comfortable and innovative co-working spaces, an open ecosystem, and businesslike citizens. Its reputation as the city that never sleeps with the vivid nightlife is also appealing to young startupers. The infrastructure of crypto-acceptance in daily transactions is only starting to develop within the city. The first and only Bitcoin ATM in Berlin was installed on November 24, 2020, at Telewelt. At the same time, over 90 businesses are ready to accept crypto payments here.