More Bitcoin in Belgium: Ghent Bitcoincity Initiative
The city of Ghent, Belgium is working to join the ranks of Europe’s Bitcoin cities – Arnhem, Hannover and Madrid have all managed to bring more merchants over to the Bitcoin ecosystem, with the Flemish city now following suit.
Belgian Bitcoin enthusiasts in Ghent are taking it upon themselves to turn their city into a Bitcoin paradise, with the desire to make Bitcoin more mainstream both as a technology and currency in the medieval city.
The idea has grown from the ground up, starting with a local group who has charged themselves with approaching Ghent merchants about Bitcoin and teaching them about the technology. Seeing as Ghent is the location of the country’s first Bitcoin ATM, it seems like the perfect place for this kind of initiative.
The ‘Gent Bitcoinstad’ initiative (literally ‘Ghent Bitcoincity’) aims not only to produce further customer demand, but to get merchants involved in the digital currency and Bitcoin blockchain. The team behind the initiative outlined their plans on the official Gent Bitcoinstad website:
Our expectation is that Bitcoin – and especially the blockchain technology behind it – will become a part of our everyday life. To pay with bitcoins is just the first application it offers, but more applications will arise. We organise Bitcoin meetups, in which we explain the possibilities.
Blockchain technology, a database of sequential transactions, has been touted as the next step in developing open source hardware and efficient media distribution. It’s even been proposed as a way forward in digital democracy, having the potential to revolutionise the way people vote and engage in the democratic process.
There are currently a few places in Ghent that accept Bitcoin as currency, such as the Gameswap HQ, which is where said Bitcoin ATM lives, while it is hoped that enthusiasm will spread via Bitcoin meetups and merchant events.
In order to increase the uptake of Bitcoin by Belgian merchants, the service BitKassa is endorsed by the Bitcoinstad team and is completely free of charge. BitKassa promises revenue from Bitcoin payments in Euro deposits to a merchant’s bank account without any hassle – the transfer of Bitcoin to Euro is immediate, meaning security and storage of Bitcoin doesn’t come into the equation.
No extra equipment or software is required, other than the standard PC, tablet or smartphone. A QR code is presented that allows customers to pay and merchants to accept Bitcoin, with tips available on the website if scanning is problematic or unsuccessful.