The era of Bitcoin is upon us — well, in San Francisco anyway.
As digital mobile payments rise in popularity as the mode of payment for in-store purchases, one company is making sure that Bitcoin gets some notice, too.
Last month, Snapcard, a Bitcoin payment API, announced an initiative to make San Francisco “the Bitcoin capital of the world,” cofounder Michael Dunworth told VentureBeat. Though the company focuses on e-commerce transactions, it saw an opportunity to help get Bitcoin some visibility by launching a Bitcoin POS for brick-and-mortar stores.
In lieu of funding an advertising campaign for Snapcard, Dunworth and his team conspired to buy 500 Samsung tablets, set them up as a point of sale for digital currencies, and gave them away for free to merchants in San Francisco interested in accepting Bitcoin. Snapcard also provided a way for merchants to export all cryptocurrency transactions to their accounting software. And this isn’t a one-time investment for the company. Snapcard promises to help its merchants work through problems as they get used to accepting Bitcoin.
“It’s good for us to take exciting chances that could have a long-term benefit for the community,” says Dunworth.
So far, Snapcard has onboarded 250 merchants in Silicon Valley. Right now, Bay Area residents can pay for everything from a car tune-up to their next home with Bitcoin, Ripple, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. And with the holidays right around the corner, consumers could use Bitcoin to make their holiday purchases. Snapcard’s bevy of merchants include boutique shops like designer toy peddler Woot Bear, sustainable women’s fashion shop Skunk Funk, and for a snack between shopping venues, fro-yo purveyor Easy Breezy Frozen Yogurt.
If Dunworth has anything to say about it, the list of merchants to accept digital currencies will continue to grow. He plans to get a total of 500 merchants set up to accept Bitcoin in San Francisco before the campaign is through.
No other region has come close to having this many merchants accept Bitcoin (or any other digital currency, for that matter). In March, The Hague, Netherlands, dubbed the two streets on either side of the canal in the city’s downtown Bitcoin Boulevard for the nine restaurants and one gallery that began accepting Bitcoin there. Earlier this year, a strip in Cleveland also got its own Bitcoin Boulevard for the string of merchants on the block that accept Bitcoin. On the Ohio drag, a total of nine merchants and four services, like construction and computer repair, accept Bitcoin.
Snapcard’s robust campaign will certainly educate a number of consumers, but hopefully it will also encourage the people who have Bitcoin to spend it. Recently, an NVIDA engineer took to Reddit to publish a chart detailing the distribution and movement of Bitcoin in the last six months based on age, as reported by Coindesk. The charts show that as much as 70 percent of Bitcoin have not moved — meaning few people are actually transacting the cryptocoin.
Getting the Bitcoin economy going is a top priority for Bitcoin businesses like Snapcard and Coinbase, the latter of which just developed a workaround so users can now use Bitcoin to make purchases on Facebook and iTunes. If people hold onto their stores of Bitcoin, the businesses surrounding the coin are going to have a very difficult time growing.
To see more of Snapcard’s merchants, check here.