In the heart of downtown Montreal, between a boarded-up bar and a poutine shop, there’s a three-story glass building. It looks for all the world like realtor’s office — that is until you spot the sign swaying in the wind: “Bitcoin Embassy”.
The idea of a brick-and-mortar embassy for a digital payment system most often associated with online drug markets might seems a little strange at first. After all, Bitcoin is a currency — an entire philosophy, really — founded on the notion of no central control. So having one building to preach the crypto-love to the masses seems a little disingenuous.
Even stranger is the Embassy’s location. It seems like it should be in the heart of Silicon Valley; but instead it’s in the nightlife district of Montreal, Canada.
So it was with an apprehensive mind — and a stomach full of poutine — that I pushed open the Bitcoin logo-emblazened doors. Francois Pouliot, the Embassy’s Communications Director (and the Embassy’s only paid employee) greeted me with a handshake and a Bitcoin tie-pin.
The public-facing side of the building is a cross between a doctor’s waiting room, and the merchandise store at a Guns Roses reunion concert: everywhere you look, there’s Bitcoin t-shirts (‘Keep Calm and Carry Bitcoin’), Bitcoin bumper stickers, Bitcoin bookmarks.
At the front desk I met an intern, a student from the local university’s cryptocurrency club, surrounded by a tennis court’s-worth of flatscreens. He runs the Embassy’s most useful public function — namely, helping anyone who walks in off the street to buy and sell Bitcoin for
Originally appeared at: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/08/why-does-montreal-have-a-bitcoin-embassy/