Whether you live in a sizeable city or just visit one occasionally, you may wonder about the local Bitcoin scene. There are five reliable metrics for teasing out the crypto action anywhere you are:
- Merchant adoption
- BTMs (Bitcoin teller machines)
- Local trade volume
- Remittance services
- Good ol'-fashioned meetups
But how do you best pinpoint those metrics wherever you happen to be?
Luckily, there are a slew of websites that report local data in each of these categories. If you've not yet dived into your city's Bitcoin scene – or if you plan to visit a new city soon – get ready to put the following bookmarks in your browser:
1. Merchant acceptance
Whether it's a hotel, restaurant, or hardware store, any brick-and-mortar store that accepts bitcoin should be listed on CoinMap and AirBitz. CoinMap was the original searchable merchant acceptance map site, but AirBitz stepped it up by integrating a native bitcoin wallet.
In cities with tamer Bitcoin scenes, many merchants simply haven't heard of cryptocurrency yet. Great success has been had where bitcoin users pitch their favorite retailers about the benefits of accepting digital currencies. With payment processors like BitPay offering free merchant accounts for life, it's not a hard pitch to sell.
The term “Bitcoin ATM” was thrown around for a while, but some have now decided that the acronym “BTM” is snappier and more to the point. Whatever terminology you prefer, the presence of BTMs is an excellent indicator of the local crypto scene.
CoinATMradar and Bitcoin ATM Map track BTMs around the world and list essential information, such as how much the machine charges in fees and whether it has a purchase cap. Some machines only eat fiat and return bitcoins, while others are two-way machines that will accept and dispense both. CoinATMradar also has a nifty BTM adoption speed gauge while displaying the devices by region and manufacturer.
3. Local trade
Whether you're looking to buy or sell bitcoins, the best prices and privacy are usually found peer-to-peer. LocalBitcoins and Wall of Coins facilitate such sales by matching buyers with sellers based on their physical proximity to each other.
And no, you don't have to meet a stranger on a street corner to make the sale, either (though you could if you wanted to). LocalBitcoins offers many ways to buy and sell without leaving your home: PayPal, money wire, bank deposit, gift card transfer, etc. Alternatively, Wall of Coins specializes solely in competitively priced bank deposits.
4. Remittance services
Often called the holy grail of cryptocurrency's applications, “remittances” is the term used for payments sent abroad to friends and family. They're big in areas where workers have left home to pursue higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
Bitcoin remittance services are taking off in Latin America and Southeast Asia especially. As examples, Rebit is serving a large market that sends money back to the Philippines, while SendBitcoinMX is doing the same for Mexico.
Also exciting is Abra, a new global remittances app for both Android and iOS that's demonstrated in this video:
What would cryptocurrency be without community? Meetups are the perfect excuse to meet up for drinks and genial crypto banter. (Not to mention that they're a great place to buy and sell bitcoins.)
You can find the times and locales of bitcoin meetups on Facebook, MeetUp, or through a simple web search of keywords (e.g. “Detroit Bitcoin meetup”). And if there isn't a gathering where you live, there's never going to be a better time to start one.
Not for the technically un-inclined, another way to grasp the strength of a local Bitcoin scene is to search out nodes. The Bitcoin Foundation is currently conducting a paid program called Bitnodes that seeks to both locate existing full nodes and financially incentivize new ones.
Using these metrics will put you in the thick of the crypto action wherever you happen to be. Now get out there and make some connections.
Did we leave out any other cool trade or community services? Share in the comments below.
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