Bitcoincity Arnhem opened on May 28 this year with 15 cafes and restaurants accepting bitcoins. But since then the organizers have been busy recruiting more merchants to join the project and now a total number of 30 merchants accept Bitcoin.
Bitcoin City Arnhem is a project that aims to create an atmosphere where every local business accepts Bitcoin. The relatively small city center of Arnhem (located an hour by train from Amsterdam or 30 minutes from Utrecht) is now the densest concentration of Bitcoin merchants in the world.
Buy a stroopwafel or Heineken at one of the local shops or rent a bike and explore the city without converting to euros, paying credit card or overdraft fees - all thanks to the p2p cryptocurrency.
Bitcoincity Doubles in Size
Cointelegraph touched base with one of the organizers of Bitcoin City Arnhem and BitKassa representative, Patrick van der Meijde. “The overall reaction from the Dutch Bitcoin community is very enthusiastic, says Van der Meijde. “Although a number of Bitcoiners still pay with fiat currency and not all of them actually have a (hot) wallet, there are also a lot that really enjoy spending bitcoins and also use the General Bytes ATM, which we have at Rose's Lounge.”
Initially, Bitcoin City Arnhem was planned as a one-day event. However, due to the success and publicity the local community received, merchants saw no reason to drop the new payment option and recognized its numerous benefits.
What’s more is that more and more merchants have been signing up and integrating Bitcoin payments into their businesses such as the latest addition and the 30th merchant to sign up, Cycle Nation Arnhem – a popular bike shop in the town that also provides repair services.
Organizers are encouraging other businesses in the city to get on board. “For merchants, any new customer is welcomed with open arms,” explains Van der Meijde.
“For instance, the owner of the Karakter restaurant told us he received at least one returning customer due to accepting bitcoins and many others noticed visitors from outside of Arnhem (even from outside of Europe) who went to their shop just because they accepted Bitcoin.”
According to the organizers, the 30 merchants now accepting Bitcoin in Arnhem still see a limited number of Bitcoin customers in the city who spend their digital coins at these brick-n-mortar locations, which account for approximately 3-4 BTC per month.
Interestingly enough, Van der Meijde also mentioned that merchants are noticing a drop in Bitcoin payments if the currency’s exchange rate declines. He stated:
“We notice that less bitcoins are being spent after a Bitcoin price drop. And restaurants see a rise in Bitcoin paying visitors after a Bitcoin price rise.”
Customer behavior is seemingly affected by price volatility since it’s not surprising that they wish to get more “bang for their buck,” so to speak. Thus, whether 1 bitcoin could feed a family of four for a month or a week all depends on the current exchange rate, though these fluctuations should decrease with time as the market matures according to many experts.
Bitcoin Pub Crawl
In other related news, incoming freshmen studying computer science, media and communications at the HAN University in Arnhem received bitcoins during their orientation week. The students were given two Euros in Bitcoin allocated for a pub crawl through the city.
The bitcoins were made available by HAN University while Arnhem-based payment processor BitKassa distributed the bitcoins to the students. But while the amount appropriated to the students may not seem like enough to even buy one beer in most places, the 2 euros appears to have gone a long way as many of the local pubs gave additional discounts on beer and other drinks for people paying with Bitcoin.
Alcoholic beverages aside, the move by HAN University certainly mirrors the initiative by MIT earlier this year where money from funding is earmarked for distribution among the 4,528 undergraduates meaning that each undergrad student will receive a larger sum to the tune of US$100 in BTC. Although the students will be free to use the money as they wish, the plan is to encourage innovative Bitcoin projects and promote wider acceptance and education at MIT and beyond.
Most of the merchants in Arnhem use local payment processor BitKassa. “We developed this tool to take away any hurdles for merchants to accept bitcoins and we received very positive feedback about BitKassa,” explains Van der Meijde. “Café Stout told us they are very happy with the speed at which they receive their payments on their bank account with BitKassa. It's faster than a regular (PIN) payment in the Netherlands.”
To attract more Bitcoin users, the organizers are planning to host free lectures on Bitcoin at Café Njoy on October 19. These lectures are nothing new however, as they were held before back in February and March where, according to the organizers, the most common thing asked among those in attendance was: “what can I buy with bitcoins?”
At the time, the organizers could only redirect them to online stores, which was not very encouraging. Thus, this is how Bitcoin City Arnhem was born and now with 30 merchants accepting Bitcoin and growing, the number of people showing interest and using Bitcoin is expected to grow.
Additionally, organizers are planning a celebration of the first half a year of Arnhem Bitcoincity on November 28. The event will be celebrated with a lot of participating Dutch and international Bitcoin users who will gather in Arnhem and eat and drink at the different venues accepting Bitcoin.
International guests are welcome and the Modez hotel in Arnhem that also accepts the digital currency is a good bet if you’re a Bitcoin user looking for a place to stay. Van der Meijde concludes:
“We very much welcome any Bitcoin users from elsewhere to visit Arnhem!”