When it comes to Bitcoin adoption in Europe, you can see that many people are trying to push the awareness level of Bitcoin to new heights, but on a grand scale of things, we are still lagging behind. Luckily for us, several “major” retailers also offer services in Europe, so we are not left out entirely. However, unlike the American continent, Europe is seeing several Bitcoin cities pop up across several countries. Belgian Bitcoin enthusiasts are trying to turn (a part of) Ghent into their own Bitcoincity initiative.
Ghent Bitcoincity – Promising Start So Far
The idea of having a “Bitcoin city” initiative in your country is nothing new under the sun. In fact, there already are several Bitcoin cities in existence, such as Arnhem and Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Madrid in Spain and even Hannover in Germany. Each of these initiatives seems to bring more merchants over to the Bitcoin ecosystem, which is a good thing to make spending bitcoins a more mainstream” thing”.
Similar to these other Bitcoin city initiatives throughout Europe, the idea to turn Ghent into a place where Bitcoin can thrive came forth from a desire to pay mundane things with Bitcoin. A local group of Gentenaren (as these citizens of Ghent are called in Dutch) came together for drinks, and found themselves looking into ways to pay with bitcoin. As you can imagine at that point in time, hardly anyone in Belgium knew what Bitcoin is what they should be interested in it in the first place.
All of a sudden, the idea formed to talk to local merchants and retailers about Bitcoin, and see what their reaction would be. After all, even if people don’t know about it, at least trying to inform them about Bitcoin (the technology) and bitcoin (the currency) could plant a seed for the future. If there is no customer demand to pay in bitcoin, hardly any merchant will undertake the “task” of getting involved in digital currency.
It has to be said however that turning Ghent into a Bitcoin city is an interesting idea. Not only is Ghent one of the major “student cities” of Belgium, but it is also home to a lot of history, tradition, and Ghent has been called “Belgium’s finest city” by several people in the past. Chauvinistic as we are, not everyone necessarily agrees with that statement, but that’s a different story for a different time.
You have to keep in mind that “paying things with bitcoin (the currency)” is only the first step of adopting the Bitcoin technology. The blockchain offers us so much more unlimited and untapped potential we have yet to discover, and the “Ghent Bitcoincity” initiative is more focused towards the technology, and not necessarily the currency. Granted, the currency will play a big role in the initial “convincing”, but it should not be the main focus forever.
Up to this day, there already are several places in Ghent where you can spend bitcoin (the currency) : GameSwap – home of the first Bitcoin ATM in Belgium -, Restaurant Jinjiang – home of excellent Chinese food- , and Kyrana – For all your PC/IT repairs and maintenance – have all seen the power of Bitcoin (the technology) and are now accepting bitcoin (the currency) for their services provided.
Upcoming Events To Expand The Initiative
Over the next few months, a few events will take place in order to inform more merchants and retailers about the Ghent Bitcoincity initiative, and hopefully add more names to the list of places to spend bitcoin (the currency). February will be all about Bitcoin enthusiasts in Ghent talking to merchants and rallying them to show up at their first of two big events, which takes place on March 2nd.
In fact, March 2nd 2015 could be an important day for the history books of Bitcoin in Belgium, as there will be an official “Ghent Bitcoincity merchant event” taking place that very day. We are still awaiting a few details about the event, such as the startt ime, but is an event the CryptoArticles team will be attending.
Note from the author : We will try and conduct some interviews during this event, to collect some feedback merchants have in regards to Bitcoin/bitcoin.
April 18th (date to be confirmed), there will be the big “Ghent Bitcoincity event” taking place in….well, Ghent of course. By that time, we will hopefully see many more people in Ghent (and perhaps even the rest of Belgium) showing an interest in Bitcoin and bitcoin, which can only mean good things for the future of digital currency in Belgium.
Website : http://gentbitcoinstad.be/