Better Bitcoin: Getting Local Merchants On Board


“Getting Local Merchants On Board” is the first post in Better Bitcoin, an initiative led by Harborly to educate and enable individuals to create thriving digital currency communities in their hometowns and cities.

Widespread merchant acceptance of Bitcoin feels like it’s a long way off, but it may be closer than you think. A recent Cointelegraph article details Allen Scott’s trip to Arnhem, Netherlands, the city with the highest concentration of Bitcoin merchants, without relying on any standard currency. His experience illustrates some interesting lessons for people waiting patiently for Bitcoin to become a viable currency.

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Arnhem, Netherlands: “Bitcoin City”

Arnhem, Netherlands – “Bitcoin City”

Patrick van der Meijde, Annet de Boer, and Rogier Eijkelhof had a dream. According to the Arnhem Bitcoinstad website, “Arnhem Bitcoinstad” (‘Bitcoincity’) as they call it, came into existence when three Bitcoin enthusiasts decided they wanted to be able to spend bitcoins in their own town. They went on a mission to convince local bars and restaurant owners to accept bitcoin payments. At the opening at May 28th, 15 places accepted bitcoins. Since then, more and more shop owners joined them so you can buy a greater diversity of products and pay with Bitcoin in Arnhem.”

Allen Scott wanted to put Bitcoin City to the test, so he took the train to Arnhem with his mobile phone loaded with bitcoins to see if he could avoid using any fiat currency. He had no trouble at the local grocery store, the sandwich shop, or any of the other shops he visited there. Even the 30 euro train ticket he paid for with euros he got from a Mr. Bitcoin atm at the station.

All the merchants there were delighted to see someone who wanted to pay with Bitcoin. Imagine it—a city where you can do your grocery shopping, buy gas, grab lunch, and hit the bar with your friends, all with your bitcoins. It’s a dream that is achievable right now anywhere people are willing to do the legwork required to make businesses aware of how simple it is to get set up to accept Bitcoin.

Lessons Learned

Currently there are 40 brick-and-mortar shops that accept Bitcoin as payment in Arnhem. Setting up this payment option, however, is completely free with a Netherlands based payment-processor called BitKassa.

Arnhem Bitcoin Merchant Map
Map of Bitcoin Merchants in Arnhem

Payment processors sometimes charge fees for their services but these fees are extremely low compared to traditional payment processing systems.

Arnhem, Netherlands proves that merchants can be convinced to accept Bitcoin if their customers demand it, and that a thriving local economy based around Bitcoin is entirely plausible right now. What we need is for the community to bring awareness to the people that provide us our goods and services, so that we can all start to use this amazing technology in our everyday lives.

Moving Forward

A local shop accepting Bitcoin
A local shop accepting Bitcoin payments

Now’s the perfect time to advocate for greater acceptance of Bitcoin. If we want to bring Bitcoin as a payment system into the mainstream it’s up to us to bring awareness of the system’s benefits to our local merchants. It’s low cost or free for most merchants to use, especially for ones that already have payment systems that already use mobile devices for credit/debit card transactions.

There are also little to no processing fees associated with accepting Bitcoin, as there are with accepting debit cards. The transactions are also processed quicker, usually confirmed by the system within 10 minutes or less, significantly less time than it takes to confirm credit and debit card transactions, and without the need for a third party, like credit card companies and banks.

Investing in this system creates incentives for merchants to advertise ther acceptance. This in turn could draw in new customers, and make more people aware of Bitcoin’s utility as an actual currency.

Payment Processors

Here I’ve provided some links to the most popular Bitcoin payment processors for those of you who want to take your Bitcoin advocacy to the streets of your hometown.

And for those of you who work for or run a small business, take the time to check out what these processors are offering. It’s little to no cost to you and you can be on the forefront of the emerging system by offering your customers a new way to pay for your goods and services:

  • BitPay
  • GoCoin
  • Coinbase
  • BitPagos
  • Coinify

Harborly is the simplest, quickest and safest way to buy and sell Bitcoin globally using your local currency. Sign up today to get started!