Akin Fernandez’s shop in Shoreditch is remarkably sparse.
But then again, a shop that sells Bitcoins doesn’t really need much more than a laptop and four walls, does it?
Fernandez came up with the idea for his shop, Azteco, after having an epiphany about Bitcoin’s ease of use. “Bitcoin is hard to understand, but it doesn’t have to be,” he said. “We have boiled it down to its essence so that it is simple, easy to use and works very quickly.”
His shop relies on a familiar model to anyone in London who has ever bought, say, prepaid phone credit. The pay-as-you-go vouchers Fernandez sells are almost instantly redeemable for Bitcoins, which can be done on the company website, Azte.co.
The genius in what Fernandez is trying to do lies in what web and product designers refer to as a user experience. Bitcoin sounds intimidating to anyone who isn’t tech savvy. Cryptography and hashing and QR codes and admonishments to “keep your wallet offline!” sound confusing when taken in a single dose.
But a voucher, most of us can handle. It’s the same reason Apple called its breakthrough technology an iPhone, even though it’s roughly 95% computer and 5% phone. The metaphor is just easier to digest at the mainstream level.
Fernandez has plans to open up shops in Mexico and Sierra Leone, as well. With Bitcoin’s borderless network and infinitesimal payment processing charges, he sees it as a way to revolutionize charitable giving.
“With Bitcoin, everyone in the third world will have access to buying goods on the internet with a fraud proof method of payment. This means that every website in the world that sells goods will eventually be accessible to some of the 2.2 billion unbanked people in the world. Making Bitcoin accessible and easy to use is key to making this transformation happen."