London just launched what it calls the world’s first exchange-backed peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. London just launched what it calls the world’s first exchange-backed peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. London just launched what it calls the world’s first exchange-backed peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. (Photo: IR Stone / Shutterstock)

5 cities where bitcoin is actually taking off

Early adopters in these locales are helping the digital currency pick up steam.

There's the dollar, there's the euro, there's the yen, and there's bitcoin. Bitcoin is a digital currency that has slowly entered the mainstream, and you can now use bitcoins to purchase anything from a turkey sandwich at a deli to courtside tickets to see the Sacramento Kings play.

Alan Rothenstreich, who attends bitcoin meetups in New York City, calls this the early-adoption phase. “I like to think of it as the early years of the Internet,” he told From the Grapevine.

However, the acceptance and popularity of bitcoin will not be the same in all geographic regions. For example, most bitcoin-friendly cities are generally larger metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles. “You could also make the argument that some of these cities have more of a tech aspect related to them, which might account for some of the popularity of bitcoin use as well,” David Bakke, a finance expert with Money Crashers, told From the Grapevine.

Here are five cities from around the world where bitcoins have really taken off.


Arnhem

The Dutch city of Arnhem has been dubbed the most bitcoin-friendly place in the world.The Dutch city of Arnhem has been dubbed the most bitcoin-friendly place in the world. (Photo: Mediagram/Shutterstock)

Dubbed the most bitcoin-friendly place in the world, this Netherlands city of approximately 150,000 people sports a venue that accepts bitcoins every 2.3 square miles. For comparison, Big Mac fans can hit a McDonald's every 1.6 square miles in Manhattan. One enterprising journalist recently attempted to spend an entire weekend in Arnhem using nothing but bitcoins – and still have fun while doing it.


Tel Aviv

The Bitcoin Embassy is based in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv.The Bitcoin Embassy is based in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv. (Photo: Protasov AN/Shutterstock)

The Israeli city has a large pool of early adopters. Based in Tel Aviv, the Bitcoin Embassy serves as a physical haven for the digital currency community. The city organizes meetups for thousands of people who get together twice a month at the Google campus on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Home to a bitcoin ATM, Tel Aviv also hosts activities such as “How to Open Your First Bitcoin E-wallet,” and houses Byte, A Cryptocurrency Innovation Lab, which works to “accelerate the process of bringing the benefits of the cryptocurrency revolution to the world.”


London

A view of the financial district in London, where bitcoin has been widely adopted.A view of the financial district in London, where bitcoin has been widely adopted. (Photo: QQ7/Shutterstock)

A bitcoin exchange here just launched what it calls the world’s first exchange-backed peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. The Coinfloor Market will connect consumers and investors with professional bitcoin brokers. In the past, the need to send funds internationally, deal with exchange rate risk and manage their own storage security have deterred people from buying bitcoins, said Coinfloor CEO Mark Lamb. Coinfloor simplifies this process for bitcoin buyers by providing a personal interface to a vetted broker with local banking facilities. “We are moving away from the ‘Wild West’ of bitcoin towards safe and accessible structures," he said.


San Francisco

As a tech epicenter, San Francisco has seen wide usage of the bitcoin currency in the last couple of years.As a tech epicenter, San Francisco has seen wide usage of the bitcoin currency in the last couple of years. (Photo: dibrova/Shutterstock)

Headquartered in the City by the Bay, Coinbase claims to be the world’s most popular bitcoin wallet, with 2.3 million users. “Bitcoin is a powerful technology, but without an easy-to-use interface, the benefits of bitcoin will be inaccessible to most people,” the company writes in its mission statement. “Coinbase is making a product for regular people and businesses to integrate bitcoin into people’s lives.” The city is also home to myriad early adopters from across the tech industry who are using bitcoin in retail stores all over town.


Amsterdam

Amsterdam hosted last year's Bitcoin Foundation conference.Amsterdam hosted last year's Bitcoin Foundation conference. (Photo: Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock)

Approximately 75 merchants accept bitcoins in this European capital, and the Bitcoin Foundation chose Amsterdam to host the Bitcoin 2014 conference. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, one the largest retailers to accept bitcoin, served as the keynote speaker. In the nearby city of The Hague, a group of merchants along one canal started to accept bitcoins in an area dubbed The Bitcoin Boulevard. “We would like to build a whole network of Bitcoin Boulevards, connecting all over the world,” said one of the project leaders.

Not near any of these places? Check out Coinmap to get a sense of bitcoin growth near you.

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