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Arnhem Bitcoincity has enrolled its fiftieth participant. The newest addition to the impressive list of brick and mortar locations to accept bitcoin in the Dutch city of Arnhem is a local dentist by the name of C.A. Sriram.
Inspired by another regional bitcoin project, the Kreuzberg area in Berlin, the Arnhem Bitcoincity initiative was launched by three friends in May of 2014. Arnhem locals Patrick van der Meijde, Rogier Eijkelhof and Annet de Boer had been a fan of the cryptographic currency for years, but couldn't actually spend bitcoins in their hometown in the eastern part of the Netherlands. So they decided to team up, and launch their own version of a bitcoin only street, but this time enrolling bars and restaurants all throughout the city.
“We initially advertised it as a one night only pub-crawl type of event, because we figured that might get more of these bars and restaurant on board,” Van der Meijde explained. “But it was always our hope that they'd keep accepting bitcoin even after the original Arnhem Bitcoincity night was over, of course.”
Using this strategy, the team got fifteen participants to sign up. Not bad for a town with just slightly over 150,000 inhabitants. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the original fifteen participants indeed decided to keep accepting bitcoin even after the first Arnhem Bitcoincity night was over.
Moreover, the pub crawl turned out to be the launch of a much bigger phenomenon, as Arnhem Bitcoincity has been growing steadily ever since. The team added various new participants throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015, which now started to include all sorts of merchants, including a florist, a hairdresser, three book stores, a bike shop, liquor stores, and – perhaps most notably – a supermarket.
Van der Meijde said:
“Our goal is now to on-board enough locations for us to simply be able to pay for all of our day-to-day expensed using bitcoin. And we're getting close.”
As a result, Arnhem has grown to become the densest concentration of bitcoin accepting merchants in the world. On top of that, the three organizers have put together several events throughout the past year, such as a bar crawl and a bitcoin giveaway for IT freshmen at the nearby university, and a big bitcoin party at the half year mark.
And now, a little over seven months after the original Arnhem Bitcoincity event, the project has more than tripled in size as it reached its fiftieth participant with the country’s first dentist to accept bitcoin. Sriram, a young female dentist working in a practice named Apeldoornseweg 59, was encouraged by her boyfriend to join the Arnhem Bitcoincity project.
“I don't know a whole lot about it,” she admitted, adding: “But the idea of an alternative method of payment does appeal to me.”
Like other participants of Arnhem Bitcoincity, Sriram uses BitKassa, the payment provider developed by the Arnhem Bitcoincity team, to accept payments in bitcoin.
As successful as Arnhem Bitcoincity has been in establishing what could be seen as the Bitcoin capital of the world (and definitely is the Bitcoin capital of the Netherlands), it has recently found itself a new domestic competitor. Startup BitStraat teamed up with bitcoin payments giant BitPay – which has its European headquarters in Amsterdam - to establish the capital of the Netherlands as the Bitcoin capital of the world, with their Amsterdam Bitcoin City project. BitStraat is still behind on Arnhem, but they are starting to catch up with thirty enrolled merchants in just a couple of month’s time. This doesn't really trouble Van der Meijde, however:
“In a way, we're kind of looking forward to them eventually beating us. After all, we're hoping that bitcoin will be a huge success that can be used practically anywhere at some point. The fact that Amsterdam is a much bigger city than Arnhem should mean that they will eventually be able to sign up more merchants than we ever could.”
Jokingly adding: “But we won't make it easy for them.”
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