When US-based online retailer, Overstock.com, began accepting Bitcoin at the beginning of 2014, the state of New Hampshire delivered the highest sales per capita of any state, relegating the company’s home state of Utah to second place. This was largely due to the presence in New Hampshire of the Free State Project, a political movement whose members tend to believe in decentralized and non-governmental forms of currency, making them very receptive to Bitcoin.
Because of New Hampshire’s high concentration of tech-minded entrepreneurs, combined with its historically-high rating overall freedom ranking, the state has developed a robust Bitcoin ecosystem, allowing its residents to operate off of a 100%-cryptocurrency income.
World’s longest-running Bitcoin meetup
Manchester, New Hampshire is home to what its attendees claim to be the longest-running consecutive weekly Bitcoin meetup in the world. Zach Harvey, CEO and co-founder of BTM manufacturer Lamassu, founded the meetup with his brother and business partner Josh Harvey.
“My brother started the Manchester Bitcoin Meetup in July 2012, right after the 2012 Porcfest which was a huge booster for Bitcoin.
Porcfest 2012 was one of the first times many of us got to actually use Bitcoin to buy and trade on a daily basis. For Bitcoin enthusiasts, it was a move from talking about Bitcoin and theorizing to using it in practice.
That's what led to having a weekly meeting, to experience using Bitcoin once a week. And of course talking about it as well.”
Matt Whitlock, longtime attendee of the weekly meetup, has been able to easily acquire or offload Bitcoin between private parties whenever desired.
“It's very easy to trade Bitcoins at the meetups. There's always someone looking to buy or sell. Of course, depending on recent market price movements, finding someone willing to trade at spot may be more or less difficult.”
Rent for Bitcoin
Matthew Ping, owner of Ledgeview Commercial Properties, is one of the several property owners in the Manchester area that accepts Bitcoin for rent payments.
“To my knowledge I'm the only property management company that accepts Bitcoin in New Hampshire. I know of a few property owners who rent out rooms and would accept Bitcoin.”
A resident of the Freecoast region (another name for New Hampshire’s coast), Mike Vine, LBRY’s technology evangelist, also runs a coworking and event space called the Praxeum, which accepts Bitcoin for membership dues.
“There has been a lot of interest. Bitcoin is a very popular means of exchange in our Freecoast community… coworking is a natural market for Bitcoiners. Both communities tend to be tech-oriented, free-spirited, and avante-garde.”
Bitcoin-friendly businesses of all types
Coinmap.org lists more businesses accepting Bitcoin in New Hampshire than in Massachusetts immediately to the south, despite having less than one-fifth the population, and lacking a major metropolitan area like Boston.
Within 20 minutes drive of downtown Manchester, Bitcoin-accepting businesses include pubs (including one of New Hampshire’s top-rated establishments), a pizza restaurant, a chocolate shop, a barber shop, a construction company, and two separate law offices. Elsewhere in the state, Bitcoin is accepted at a farm, a gas station, a silver mint, a news stand, and a firearms manufacturer. Finally, as has been publicized by Cointelegraph before, ride-sharing service Arcade City, which officially launched earlier this month, allows drivers to accept Bitcoin payments.
The underground market
Unique to New Hampshire’s Bitcoin scene is the Community Market Day project, a decentralized marketplace featuring dozens of vendors, many of whom are clandestine. Jessica Love, the initiator of the project, also vends bulletproof coffee, receiving about one-third of her sales in Bitcoin.
“The vendors may vary some but typically a [Community Market Day Manchester] event has at least 10 out of the 12 - 15 vendors accepting Bitcoin. There are [Community Market Day] event hubs being opened over the next few months in 3-4 different areas around the Free State on rotating weekends where more Bitcoin users will be attracted to vending.”
Love has seen all manner of goods and services being sold for Bitcoin at the various market days around the state.
“But seriously, there are lots of products and services that you can pay for with Bitcoin at [Community Market Day] events. Farm meats, eggs, produce, honey, and such raised by friends and neighbors. Organic soaps, candles, coffee & tea, jewelry, crochet goods, household items, crafts, and more. Services too - massage, chiropractic care, and even hypnotherapy. I believe that anything that can be brought to this market model and traded for Bitcoin should be. We are living the ultimate agorist experiment of an off the grid economy and beginning to implement the currency.
I do see Bitcoin interest growing in the market. As more products become available in exchange for it, people seem happy to transfer more of their business to the new free market local economy that we are building here. The Community Market Day Project and Bitcoin are a winning combination.”
The world’s most Bitcoin-friendly community
It is very possible to live entirely off of Bitcoin in New Hampshire, as Whitlock has done.
“I took a cue from Erik Vorhees and cashed out early. Cashed out of dollars and into Bitcoins, that is. I only hold as much in dollars as I need to pay the current month's expenses.”
Harvey, having traveled the world for his business, Lamassu, still finds New Hampshire to be the most Bitcoin-friendly.
“You don't get more Bitcoin-friendly than New Hampshire, specifically the Free State Project community. People are always discussing it with local businesses and now you can buy boutique chocolates, pizza and beer in Manchester. When Overstock started accepting Bitcoin, half the community bought something just to show support. I bought a towel set.”
When asked how friendly New Hampshire is to Bitcoin compared with the rest of the world, Whitlock responded without hesitation.
“That's almost an absurd question. There is no comparison. Practically everyone in this community either owns Bitcoins or wants to learn more about Bitcoin, with an eye to acquiring some. Outside of this community, people think it's something they saw referenced in a TV show once.”