This article was first published on April 27th in CoinTelegraph by Joseph Young.
The Bitcoin industry has grown rapidly across the globe. The number of Bitcoin merchants has risen, the value of Bitcoin startups has increased and most importantly, awareness of Bitcoin has increased in countries with poor banking or financial systems.
These are the 7 cities that are leading the world’s Bitcoin adoption.
San Francisco, US
San Francisco is home to over 68 rapidly growing Bitcoin startups, including Coinbase (a Bitcoin wallet and merchant processor with over 2 million users), Kraken (a Bitcoin wallet service reportedly helping former Mt.Gox users to hopefully recover their lost bitcoins), Purse, Changecoin and Lawnmower.
The city also plays host to one of the largest cryptocurrency-dedicated VC firms, Boost VC, led by Adam Draper, which has invested in over 100 companies to date. Boost VC plans to invest in 40 – 60 Bitcoin and Digital Reality-focused companies each year.
Currently, the city of San Francisco has over 170 Bitcoin-accepting merchants listed on coinmap.org.
The world’s first Bitcoin ATM was installed in Vancouver on October 30, 2013. Since then, 13 Bitcoin ATMs (or ‘BTMs’) have been installed in the city by the country’s largest Bitcoin exchange Quadriga CX. The Bitcoin exchange recently announced its plans to install BTMs throughout major cities in Canada, including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
Vancouver has over 100 Bitcoin-accepting merchants and several other Bitcoin exchanges and payment processing platforms which help the locals to purchase bitcoins easily.
Amsterdam has fostered key players in the Bitcoin industry such as BitFury and Bitpay, both leading companies in their fields. BitPay handles transactions of over 100,000 merchants globally, while BitFury is currently the largest company for constructing and managing data centers for Bitcoin mining operations.
The number of Bitcoin merchants in Amsterdam has substantially grown since the beginning of a project called “Bitcoin Boulevard”. Aiming to increase Bitcoin awareness in the Netherlands, the team of Hendrink Jan Hilbolling and Peter Klasen convinced more than 10 merchants to accept Bitcoin along a canal in The Hague. Since then, the number of Bitcoin merchants has grown rapidly and there are now over 200 throughout the Netherlands
Due to the country’s poor banking systems and expensive remittance services, Bitcoin has been the perfect solution for most middle-class workers in Makati to send their savings or salaries to the provinces.
Although the sudden growth of the Bitcoin industry in the country was somewhat unexpected, major Bitcoin startups have emerged through the years, such as coins.ph, buybitcoins.ph, rebit.ph and Satoshi Citadel Industries.
Coins.ph allows Bitcoin users in the Philippines to purchase in eCommerce sites such as Metrodeal, pay utility bills, purchase credit (phone, internet) and to cash out at thousands of ATMs, local remittance stores and banks.
Moreover, Coins.ph users can purchase bitcoins by depositing cash through remittance stores, banks, ATMs and many more, with an exchange rate commission of less than 1%.
Apart from its child company Coins.co.th, Coins.ph is probably the only company which allows users to spend bitcoins for day-to-day use and to connect to local banks and remittance services.
The number of Bitcoin merchants in the Makati area has furthermore rapidly increased, as coffee shops, resorts, hotels and restaurants begin to accept Bitcoin.
Zurich, the financial center of Switzerland with a population of 366,000 has two BTMs installed by operator SBEX. The installation of BTMs was first denied permission by the Swiss Financial Regulator which forced SBEX to cancel the launch of the machines. A few weeks after the initial installation however, SBEX resolved the issue and gained clearance to begin operations.
Thanks to the launch of the BTMs, the number of Bitcoin merchants has risen to around 64 in April 2015.
The safe vaults of Xapo, one of the world’s largest Bitcoin wallet services (which recently secured one of the largest investment deals in the history of Bitcoin) are also located in a Swiss military bunker.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv currently hosts the most active Bitcoin Meet-Up with over 1,780 members. The group is constantly discussing innovations such as wallets and transactions, and invites guest lecturers to speak, including Nick Szabo.
As of now, Tel Aviv has over 50 Bitcoin merchants and 4 Bitcoin ATMs in the center of the city. The Robocoin Bitcoin ATMs in Tel Aviv were the first of their kind in the Middle East.
The Capital of UK and one of the world’s financial centers, London has over 80 Bitcoin merchants and 4 Bitcoin ATMs, one of which is installed in Google’s Campus London. The first BTM in London was developed by BitAccess, and dispensed cash in both euros and pounds sterling.
Moreover, London currently hosts the largest Bitcoin meet-up in the world, boasting over 2,300 members.