Bitcoin Meetup 5

So after missing one of our fortnightly meetups (due to holidays) we managed to get together yesterday to discuss what’s been happening recently in the Bitcoin space.

It was an interesting meetup as Ian Jauncy, representing Digital Jersey, took the floor to discuss a report he will be putting together to look at the opportunities that Cryptocurrencies could offer Jersey. It became clear during the conversations that the one thing that Jersey needs to sort out is the ‘bitcoin-business-friendly bank’.

As those of you who follow what’s happening in the Bitcoin world, the ‘bank’ issue is by far the biggest problem, and more importantly the first jurisdiction to solve this problem would have the world beating down it’s door. One message we’ve had from the banks is that although they’d be interested, until the government can provide guidance (and a positive approach) they will have to opt for the current stance of ‘wait-and-see’.

Jersey has a unique opportunity, starting with a consistant push from Digital Jersey, to produce a positive message to the world that they would welcome a progressive bank that would want to work with crypto-based businesses. Sadly, it seems that not all grasp just how short the time frame is for this message to be given. The UK are already starting to push towards London’s Fintech startup scene becoming more and more crypto-centric. I would estimate that we have a maximum of 6 months before a jurisdiction gets a bank on-board and all of business heads there. You only need to look at the amount of interest that the Isle of Man is generating.

The other big bit of news was that our Lamassu has arrived!

Currently we are continuing internal testing as well as adding a few functions to the software (to help with the concerns that have been raised by the JFSC), but we did decide to do a quick demo for those present. And of course, a live tech demo ended up with a ‘no connection found’ message! It seemed that powercycling the server sorted this out but we’d run out of time so the demo will have to wait until next meetup (we should have our stand made by then).

If you want to keep informed as to when the next meetup will be, please signup to our mailing list here.

Bitcoin Meetup 4

Yesterday we hosted our fortnightly meetup at Digital Jersey, and we had a fair amount to discuss. GABI has been given approval for it’s fund by the JFSC (you can read the press release here). Several members of the GABI team were present and showed us the promotional video that they’d produced to help put Jersey on the map in regards to Bitcoin.

We also discussed the release by the States of Jersey and the coverage that we at Bit.Coin.Je have had in general. It was good to have a member of the JFSC present who discussed the issues and opportunities they see from their point of view.

If you wish to keep informed as to our next meetup, please sign up for our mailing list here.

Bitcoin Meetup 3

Another great turnout at our fortnightly meetup. We were lucky enough to have some more members of the GABI team to explain the progress they’ve had dealing with various levels of Jersey’s regulatory bodies, which they were happy to do so considering that their fund was given verbal approval earlier today.

We had a round up of the various Jersey based coverage that had been ongoing (led by the BBC article and the GABI news) as well as went through CoinDesk’s State of Bitcoin Q2 2014 report.

For those that wish to keep in touch with when our next meetup will be, please sign up here.

Why should Jersey Businesses accept Bitcoin?

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One part of what the Jersey Bitcoin community is trying to do is to get more Jersey businesses to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. At first, it can be hard for a merchant to see what the benefits are over traditional forms of payment, but after learning a bit more about the process of accepting Bitcoin, it becomes obvious that there is no risk in doing so.

Currently if a merchant wants to accept a digital form of payment, they have the following options: Credit/Debit Card, Paypal (or similar), NFC payments or some kind of pre-loaded card. Each one of these comes with a high transaction fee percentage (between 2-5%) and usually requires purchasing new hardware (EPOS machines, terminals, etc) and sometimes a monthly fee (line rental for example). All these added costs mean that usually a merchant puts in place a minimum transaction amount to allow these forms of payment. This solves the problem from a merchants point of view but causes the customer frustration with this restriction, especially for low value goods (newspaper, coffee, etc) where you’d be forced to purchase more than intended to be able to pay digitally.

It is a common part of modern life where, especially younger customers, don’t carry cash. In their mind, being able to pay with a swipe or tap with a card is much easier than having to visit a cash point, withdraw cash, and then have to carry the spare change after the transaction. This can become obviously apparent by anyone who, after a night out, has woken up to only find their wallet or purse’s weight multiply by the amount of change gathered after every transaction.

Currently in Jersey, we don’t have an island-wide system for digital payments. Some places allow no-minimum card transactions, some have piloted tap-to-pay systems, some with NFC or Passbook versions. None are widespread, which leads to a gap in the market for a payment platform to integrate at every level of society and commerce.

Bitcoin could be this system.

For a merchants point of view, if they already have a smartphone or tablet, they can be setup to accept Bitcoin in a matter of minutes. If not, buying a tablet or smartphone for retailer is a one-off cost that has a resell value if needed. There is no monthly fee, the transaction completes in seconds so that the merchant isn’t waiting several days for the funds & if the merchant isn’t converting straight out to FIAT, there is a historical trend of that Bitcoin being worth more in a month than it was at the time of transaction. If the merchant does wish to get out to FIAT instantly, there are a number of payment processors that offer this service, as well as members of bit.coin.je have decided that they would happily purchase bitcoin from local merchants (most likely during our fortnightly meetups).

The added benefit of this form of payment is that apart from the potential tourism opportunities of Jersey being a Bitcoin-centric island, merchants could have their goods paid for online by a customer anywhere in the world without having to convert from their native currency into GBP. This opens up a Jersey business to a global marketplace, which currently would be great asset to Jersey’s export strategy.

If you are a Jersey business/merchant and want to learn more, please come along to our next meetup where our various bitcoiners can help you learn more about the process. You can keep up-to-date with our meeting schedule by signing up to our newsletter.

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.