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April 11, 2018

Taking Bitcoin to the Streets: How Prague is Leading the Crypto Revolution

Prague might be a city steeped in history and culture, but underneath its faced lies a progressive attitude. Over the last five years, the Czech capital has become something of a hub for cryptocurrencies, including the now famous bitcoin. Long before the 2017 bitcoin blitz that saw its value jump from a little under $1,000 to more than $19,000, businesses and consumers across Prague were embracing a new way to pay. In fact, as a testament to the city’s affiliation with the crypto community, Prague’s Hotel Ambassador Zlatá Husa was chosen as the host venue for the 2018 Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference.

bitcoin accepted
“Yup. Now accepting bitcoins. Only casino” (CC BY 2.0) by sarahstierch

Making Bitcoin Useful

Indeed, while the world at large was losing its mind over bitcoin in 2017, a little café in Holešovice was busy going about its business. Paralelní Polis’s Bitcoin Coffee was started by a group known as Ztohoven, the underground café looks like any other hipster-style hangout, but it’s not. In a bid to bring bitcoin to the masses in a real way, Paralelní Polis’s Bitcoin Coffee only accepts BTC payments. For those that aren’t equipped, a converter at the door will exchange fiat currencies for the leading crypto within seconds. As if that wasn’t interesting enough, one of the coffee shop’s baristas, Alžběta Svobodová, has a chip implanted in her wrist so that she’s always got her bitcoin wallet with her.

coffee for bitcoin
“2 mBTC for this excellent coffee and con” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jeanbaptisteparis

For those involved in the business, Paralelní Polis’s Bitcoin Coffee is taking the cryptocurrency movement to, in their words, “the streets.” This desire to make bitcoin into something more than an investment commodity is not only taking hold inside Prague. From the brains at General Bytes, bitcoin ATMs are now making their way across Europe and beyond. The Prague-based technology company manufactures and supplies BATM (bitcoin ATM) machines and a burger restaurant in Georgia is the latest beneficiary of this new technology. Located in the capital Tbilisi, the teller is part of a growing network of machines that allow consumers to collect and then spend BTC.

Prague Progressives Showing the Crypto Community the Way

Looking towards the internet, companies in the gaming space are also providing some utility to a variety of virtual currencies. Microsoft has long allowed gamers to pay for content using bitcoin, while a new breed of online casinos allows members to deposit and bet using cryptocurrencies. According to a source, platforms such as FortuneJack are now capable of taking already popular games from developers such as Playson and Endorphina and make them crypto compatible. Much like Paralelní Polis’s Bitcoin Coffee is taking an already established convention (i.e., buying coffee from a shop) and tweaking it to make it crypto-friendly, FortuneJack and its peers are doing the same. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the developers have taken what’s already there and adapted it so that it works with bitcoin.

bitcoin atm kiosk
“Bitcoin ATM. Very postmodern! #Bitcoin #” (CC BY 2.0) by AskDaveTaylor

Bitcoin certainly made its mark in 2017, but mainly because it gave novice investors a chance to make a quick buck. However, what businesses in Prague have realized that the currency can only survive in the long term if it has some real-world value. Long after the hype has subsided and investors are no longer making millions, bitcoin and its peers need to have a purpose. Buying a coffee or playing games online might not be enough to keep BTC alive forever, but they’re a start. Indeed, if Prague can do anything for the cryptocurrency world, it’s to show others that we need to find ways to “take bitcoin to the street.”

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