Looking to spend bitcoin on your travels? Your chances are much greater in the US. Seven of the top 11 cities with the most merchants that accept bitcoin are in the U.S., based on information from coinmap.org. San Francisco/San Jose leads the world with close to 200 merchants that accept bitcoin.
CCN looked for the top 10 bitcoin-friendly cities and came up with 11 cities based on an eight-place tie between Austin, Texas and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Both metropolises have 72 bitcoin-accepting establishments.
The states of California and Florida each claim two metropolises on the list. California has San Francisco/San Jose and Los Angeles while Florida claims Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
Looking at continents, North America and Europe lead the world in bitcoin acceptance, followed by South America, Australia, Southeast Asia and Japan.
China, which according to some reports accounts for as much as 80% of bitcoin trading, has far fewer merchants that accept bitcoin than other countries.
1) San Francisco/San Jose, 194
San Francisco/San Jose, a center of innovation which includes Silicon Valley, plays a major role in bitcoin development as the home to many bitcoin businesses, such as Coinbase, and conferences such as Coin Congress and the San Francisco Bitcoin Meetup.
San Francisco also may have the widest variety of businesses accepting bitcoin. They include business consultants, computer services, a pet day care, an Internet service provider, a vineyard, a psychiatrist, a massage studio, a video rental store, a coffee shop, a realtor, a salvage service and many restaurants.
2) New York City, 161
New York City, being the financial capital of the world, has been at the forefront of bitcoin innovation from the very beginning. Wall Street firms are leading much of the exploration of blockchain as a tool to improve finance. The State of New York, meanwhile, has played a pioneering role in bitcoin regulation with its BitLicense.
The city hosts numerous bitcoin conferences, such as the Bitcoin Event at La Guardia Community College.
Many restaurants and retail establishments accept bitcoin, such as the Jonathan Levine Gallery, a fine art gallery. Other businesses accepting bitcoin include software companies, security services, attorneys, fitness centers, apparel stores, gift shops, and grocers.
3) Buenos Aires, 133
Buenos Aires marks a standout in Latin America, which trails North America in bitcoin acceptance. One reason is that bitcoin has proven useful to consumers as the Argentina government has placed strict controls on finance. These controls have delivered economic stagnation and double-digit inflation. The government has restricted access to foreign currency and created an overvalued currency exchange rate.
The owner of a budget hostel in Buenos Aires told one newspaper last summer bitcoin has been helpful in the face of the country’s overvalued currency exchange rate, CCN reported. She takes credit card payments from foreign tourists in return for bitcoin. She can then sell bitcoins on Argentina’s unofficial currency market for 50 percent more than she would get at the official exchange rate.
4) Los Angeles, 117
Los Angeles would top the list if you included San Diego directly to the south, which has 53 businesses accepting bitcoin.
The second largest U.S. city, Los Angeles is also one of the fastest-growing cities for technology startups. The city hosted the State of Digital Money conference in April of 2015, featuring industry experts and workshops on the future of bitcoin.
An organization called LA Bitcoin lists businesses that accept bitcoin in the greater Los Angeles area. These businesses include hair salons, nail spas, grocers, a modeling agency, a plumber, a machine shop, a wedding planner, a marijuana shop, a solar energy provider, a transcription service, a brewer supplier, attorneys and restaurants.
5) London, 93
London, like New York City, is a financial capital where several financial institutions are exploring the blockchain as a tool for finance. Several exchanges, trading firms and banks recently set up a blockchain-based settlement group that could significantly transition the current securities market’s way of settling securities trades. The group is currently operating under the working title “Post Trade Distributed Ledger Working Group,” focusing on the application of blockchain technology in supporting post-trade processes.
A wide variety of London businesses accept bitcoin: securities traders, landscapers, garden centers, accountants, an employment agency, travel agencies, photographers, web hosting services and restaurants.
6) Kansas City, Mo., 80
Kanas City, located in the center of the U.S. and distant from major population centers, will strike many as an unlikely candidate for technology innovation. The economy has been driven historically by agriculture and heavy manufacturing, although it has diversified. A large number of corporate headquarters and government offices could be fostering a more tech-savvy, entrepreneurial population.
Businesses in general are very spread out in Kansas City. Those accepting bitcoin are not concentrated in any one part of town. Most businesses accepting bitcoin are restaurants. Others include car dealers, a cleaning service, a photographer, a jeweler, a security company, a fitness center, a web designer and a gold exchange.
7) Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., 76
Bitcoin recently took center stage on Florida’s west coast when BitPay sponsored the St. Petersburg college football bowl game, now named the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. While BitPay provided the funding for the game, the game’s title featured the generic bitcoin branding to broaden cryptocurrency awareness. The event marked BitPay’s first foray into athletic sponsorship.
Businesses accepting bitcoin include a scuba diving school, an attorney, two web designers, an electronics community workshop called Tampa Hackerspace, an escort service, a jewelry store, a graphic designer, two photographers, a cigar shop and a wig dealer.
8) Tie: Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 72; Austin, Texas, 72
Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a convention capital, has hosted numerous bitcoin conferences. These include the North American Bitcoin Conference and the Miami Hackathon. Such events build public awareness of bitcoin. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale area is also one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S.
A variety of businesses accept bitcoin: an IT services company, a foot clinic, a spine clinic, a hydroponics gardening supply store, two cosmetic surgery practices, a physical therapist, two law firms, a car dealer, an accountant, a yacht dealer, a cigar shop, and an appliance store.
Meanwhile, Austin, the state capital of Texas and the home of the University of Texas at Austin, has earned a reputation as a technology leader.
In 2015, bitcoin took center stage at the 22nd SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, an annual showcase and brainstorming conference for emerging technology. The event featured five days of presentations and panels from leaders in emerging technology.
Businesses that accept bitcoin include a tractor dealer, a bus service, a fitness center, a media company and numerous restaurants.
9) Melbourne, 68
Australia has been one of the most bitcoin progressive countries. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the largest stock exchange, has been at the forefront in exploring blockchain technology and using the blockchain to upgrade its system for clearing and settling trades.
Recent speculation that Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright might actually be Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin, exacerbated cryptocurrency awareness in that country.
Some reports have indicated that Australia has the world’s highest commercial use of bitcoin. Such acceptance could be one of the reasons that several Australian banks began closing their customers’ bitcoin accounts, an action that prompted an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Businesses accepting bitcoin include fitness centers, an aquarium store, a physical therapy practice, an art gallery, an outdoor furniture retailer, a computer store, a photographer, a coin shop and restaurants.
10) Amsterdam, 57
The Netherlands has one of the world’s most vibrant bitcoin scenes. It features a Bitcoin Embassy, an educational center where people can ask Bitcoin questions, use the computers to buy bitcoins, and go to weekly seminars to learn more about mining and everything dealing with digital currencies.
Amsterdam has hosted the annual Bitcoin Film Festival, which features films about bitcoin and digital currency.
Bit4coin, an Amsterdam-based bitcoin exchange, sponsored the Bitcoin Photo Contest in 2015, which drew 600 entries.
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