Spain’s Bitcoin Boulevard Aims to Be World’s Biggest and Best

By October 2, 2014Bitcoin Business
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More than 20 merchants in Madrid’s busiest shopping district will open for a Bitcoin Boulevard-style event today.

While streets in Arnhem, The Hague and Cleveland have all hosted similar bitcoin awareness initiatives, organiser Félix Montero says his event, Calle Bitcoin, will be the world’s biggest yet.

Around 200 bitcoin users are expected to attend the two-day spectacle, which is to feature a pub crawl, Easter egg hunt and photo competition, alongside giveaways in the digital currency.

While Spain’s bitcoin community is small, Montero hopes the outdoor event will showcase the currency’s purchasing power and utility to those in the “offline” world.

“We thought a bitcoin street was the best way to prove that bitcoin payments stand up even to the pressure of a crowded bar or shop in speed and flexibility,” he said.

Gold mile

The ‘calle’ itself is located at luxury shopping hotspot Serrano Street – also known as the city’s ‘Gold Mile’.

Besides the usual coffee shops, bars and restaurants, the 1.5 km area also features an international fashion boutique, a design hotel, an architect practice and – bizarrely – a gynecologist.

Montero explained:

“Once merchants saw that the bar next door was sporting a ‘Bitcoin Accepted Here’ sticker … they lost all fear and wanted in!”

Sign in

Calle Bitcoin

Experimental event

The event is largely experimental, involving all kinds of payment mechanisms, apps and processors, both better- and lesser-known, Montero said.

Though BitPay, Blockchain and Coinbase are ‘gold’ sponsors, smaller local startups such as CoinffeineAvatar BTC and Bitcoin Spain, owner of the country’s first Robocoin ATM, will be out in force to greet passers-by.

Nicholas Cary, Blockchain’s CEO, praised the event for its commitment to the local bitcoin community, stating: “Calle Bitcoin is a perfect example of how grass roots efforts are making a big difference locally.”

Moe Levin, director of European business development at BitPay, echoed this sentiment – adding that events like this underscore both the technology’s ethos and its community:

“There is no other payment system in the world as open-source and community oriented as Bitcoin. These are two very unique traits.”

Tech-savvy supporters

Calle’s 13 volunteers have been instrumental in getting the project off the ground, often taking time out of their full-time jobs to visit prospective merchants and give tutorials on bitcoin point-of-sale systems.

Volunteer Santiago Márquez Solís has even made a Flappy Bird-inspired android app to help engage visitors. Unlike the original however, when you die (almost always very soon), you’re met with information about the shops participating in the event.

In the spirit of open-source development, the project has been documented on popular forum Bitcoin Talk since its inception. Montero hopes that fellow Spanish-speakers will use these conversations as a blueprint to create their own future events.

But, what will become of Calle Bitcoin after the event?

According to Montero, each merchant has promised to continue accepting bitcoin for at least three months. He is confident some will stick with the currency past this point, and hopes to scale up in 2015, adding:

“Hopefully, next year we can do it with 100 merchants.”

Image via Callebitcion; VICTOR TORRES / Shutterstock.com

Around 200 bitcoin users are expected to attend the two-day spectacle , which is to feature a pub crawl, Easter egg hunt and photo competition, alongside giveaways […]

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