Tel Aviv, a city of about 400,000 residents in the heart of Israel, is considered one of the leading cities in the world in Bitcoin adoption. For new bitcoiners, Tel Aviv is like a dream come true; it has everything you need to get started with the digital currency.
For starters, the Israeli Facebook Group “Israeli Bitcoin” has more than 4,500 members. The group is extremely active and friendly to newcomers.
Also, for those who wish to hear an active stream of lectures about the Bitcoin ecosystem there is the Israeli Bitcoin Meetup Group. The group gets together roughly twice a month inside the Google Campus on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. The group has more than 1,800 members, and on average you can find 30-50 people in each meetup.
But Tel Aviv is not all about lectures and theory; it’s a city that also puts Bitcoin into practice. The Bitcoin Embassy is a place where Bitcoin entrepreneurs get together to work on Bitcoin-related projects. It’s located in the heart of Tel Aviv’s financial district, amid major banking institution headquarters and across the street from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. It is also a place the community can use to organize different Bitcoin-related events.
“The Embassy, as we call it, is the home of a large community of people from all walks of life, hosting lectures, courses, tutorials, and even the GBA meetings. It provides an open office setting that anyone can use along with a fully stocked fridge and coffee machine. Many consider the Embassy as the Parthenon of Bitcoin.”
– Eli Sklar, Bitcoin Ambassador
Every Sunday, two events occur at the embassy. The first is the Satoshi Square where Bitcoiners get together to trade bitcoin and discuss different matters. The second is a bitcoin security workshop for beginners.
The Israeli Bitcoin Association (IBA) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure that the people of Israel will benefit as much as possible from Bitcoin technology. They hold board meetings at the embassy and also are in charge of leading the Bitcoin meetups. The IBA currently has 150 registered members.
The IBA deals with regulatory issues regarding bitcoin in Israel, spreading the word about the digital currency and supporting users, businesses and researchers. The board is elected through a democratic voting process of all of the IBA members.
For us, bitcoin isn’t just bitcoin – all open trade technologies are within our scope … One of our core values is transparency. We are among the rare organizations that videotape and upload for public viewing all of our board meetings, allowing everyone to see exactly what is going on.”
– Meni Rosenfeld, chairman of the IBA
There are four bitcoin ATMs located throughout Tel Aviv. Out of a total of 150 businesses that accept bitcoin in Israel there are almost 50 brick-and-mortar stores that accept bitcoin as payment in the city. The businsess include kindergartens, tattoo parlors, lawyers and even one car repair shop. Since Tel Aviv also has a great nightlife, out of these 50 businesses, 15 are bars and restaurants.
Throughout the past year, there have been two notable Bitcoin events in Tel Aviv. The first was Inside Bitcoins Tel Aviv, which was held last year in October. For two days, 350 participants attended lectures from key people such as Vitalik Buterin, Peter Todd and Meni Rosenfeld.
“As Israel is a live and kicking Bitcoin hub … we thought it would be a great place to host a large-scale international event… indeed and it was a great success!”
– Nimrod Gruber, event organizer.
The second event was the Bitcoin Hackathon conducted in Israel in March. One hundred participants attended the hackathon, and almost half of them stayed up all night building decentralized apps.
“The purpose of the Hackathon was to expose new entrepreneurs, designers and developers to the opportunities within Bitcoin and the blockchain, and indeed some of the teams had their first acquaintance with Bitcoin in the event itself.”
– Reuven Palatnik, Hackathon co-organizer
Tel Aviv is becoming the leading city for bitcoin adoption in Israel and perhaps in the whole Middle East. While the number of participants in the Bitcoin scene may seem small at first glance, it should be remembered that the entire population of Israel is only 8 million.
Images courtesy of The Bitcoin Embassy.