Blog

Bitcoin Jersey Meetup 1

Our first meetup occurred last night at Digital Jersey’s Hub and it was great to see such a diverse turnout. Nearly everyone in the room had an understanding of Bitcoin and most owned some, so the usual discussions about the basics of Bitcoin could be skipped. We had a strong turnout from existing players in the local tech scene which is a great sign that the local industry is keeping up to date with such a fast-moving technology.

We started with the following questions (always a good way of gauging the crowd):

  1. Do you think you’ve got an understanding of Bitcoin (100% hands went up)
  2. Do you own some Bitcoin or any other crypto (100% again)
  3. Are you interested in integrating Bitcoin into your business (about 60%)
  4. Are you interested in building Bitcoin based company/service (roughly 20%)

Jon and myself then outlined what we see Bit.Coin.Je’s role in helping the island adopt Bitcoin.

Firstly targeting local merchants to increase awareness and usage. Secondly increasing off-island awareness of Jersey’s digital sector via Bitcoin related news articles. Lastly, becoming a voice for the local industry that can speak with the States of Jersey and various regulatory bodies so that we have a consistent message being conveyed as well as constant & open dialogue.

This lead to the group discussing the best way of approaching merchants. It was clear that food/drink establishments are the easiest to approach due to the high amount of card transactions used & low margins on the produce. Others mentioned were sole traders who are not based in one locations (plumbers, etc) who ordinarily can’t accept digital payments and then wait a number of weeks before mailing their invoices. This would be a perfect example of an area that could have massive benefit added to both the merchant and the customer.

A brief demo and discussion about our soon-to-be arriving Lamassu Bitcoin ATM lead to a number of further comments about the local remittance market as well as the potential for a island-wide card for payments that could be ‘charged’ with GBP, Bitcoin, etc. It was clear that those present understood the scale of the various applications something like Bitcoin could have locally.

Takeaway points were that having a card that you could give to potential businesses pointing them towards the bit.coin.je site with the various benefits of Bitcoin would be a good way to start that engagement without coming across as too preachy. The other point was that everyone present should ask as many local businesses that they are aware of (online & offline) if they’d be interested in learning more, and then invite them to the next meetup.

On the subject of the meetups, we explained that we see this to be a single point for all Bitcoin related training/education – if we’ve got several merchants wanting to learn more, it’s going to be a lot easier if we can run through setting up a wallet with a small group at the same time, especially if there are several ‘bitcoiners’ around to help out. The group also decided that having a ‘starter package’ that we can give to merchants would help greatly with the tricky step of ‘wanting to’ but not ‘knowing how’.

All in all, everyone present contributed to a valuable session and we now have various steps for what the community needs to do from now.

We are going to be holding regular meetings every couple of weeks.  Please spread the word and invite your friends.  Future meetings will cover topics such as how a retailer can accept Bitcoin, how to set up a wallet, how to obtain bitcoins, but if you have anything you would like us to cover, please let us know.

If you want to join us for the next, please sign up to our mailing list and keep you updated.

 

Robbie Andrews

Founder of Bit.Coin.Je | Technical Director at The Observatory (beobserved.com) | TechTriber (techtribes.je)

2 Comments

  • Phil Newbald July 9, 2014 Reply

    Bitcoin is accepted by several retailers on the island and this speaks volumes for its legitimacy as a currency.
    However, the volatility of bitcoin is such that I struggle to see how a pragmatic retailer operating a tight business plan could accept it as payment.
    In the last year, bitcoin’s low was $84 and its high $1,147 – a 1,265% swing.
    In the last month; $557 -> $655 – an 18% swing.
    In the last week, $615 -> $652 – a 6% swing.
    No retailer can plan financially around this currency at the moment given the movements above.
    There must be concerns about the liquidity of the bitcoin also. Bitcoin exchanges are regularly run dry, subjected to theft, and closed by regulators looking to seize assets that are the proceeds of crime. Consider all the above and you could conclude that holding bitcoin simply isn’t an attractive prospect for a retailier right now.
    It seems easy enough to ascertain bitcoin, but it seems harder to confidently exchange bitcoin back into £s. The Lamassu Bitcoin ATM for example doesn’t have a functionality for bitcoins to be exchanged into £s. It will swallow up your £20 notes very quickly however.
    The bitcoin foundations are still being laid. There isn’t enough confidence, trust, liquidity in the bitcoin market to be able to sell it as a viable currency to local retailers just yet. Jersey should instead seek ways in which it can help stabilise the currency in these three areas; establishing security services and protection for depositors, developing a payment processing system, developing regulatory framework.
    If we want to become a Bitcoin isle, then why not set up a leading Bitcoin exchange which employs the three areas mentioned above. This will create unrivalled confidence in the currency.

    • AUTHOR

      Robbie Andrews July 9, 2014 Reply

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for the comment. Currently we recommend that if a retailer doesn’t wish to hold bitcoin (which some local merchants do), then using Bitpay for an instant ‘into GBP’ function is a good route, although currently only realtime usage for high value transactions due to a £1000 min limit on GBP withdrawals due to Bitpay not having a GBP native bank account. To negate this for smaller merchants, members of bit.coin.je have guaranteed to purchase any bitcoin accepted for the GBP amount at the time of the transaction.

      Generally however, not a large amount of transactions are done in Bitcoin with merchants, therefore they treat is as both PR and a long term potential investment.

      We are currently looking at solving the whole issues that you’ve mentioned, with an exchange being top of the list (@blockcraft).

Leave a Comment