This is an opinion piece by Doug, founder of Bitramp and proponent of local bitcoin on-ramps.
The most popular route to exchanging fiat for access to Bitcoin is through the exchanges service, as it is the most commercialized, perceived as convenient, and fiat-aligned route to do so. This won’t always be the case as options emerge around us, with one in particular removing the friction of the legacy system and providing access to Bitcoin for everyone. Everybody. What is the solution ? First, let’s talk about who is forging this path. Two main groups will help distribute this solution in local communities: Bitcoin dating and small businesses. This transformation is well under way.
Bitcoin Dating is quickly becoming the epicenter of Bitcoin education and advancement in any city. Weekly and monthly rallies are held in many small towns across the country, with more held weekly. Meetups are a place where Bitcoin novices and experts come together to commune, educate, and collaborate on ways to advance adoption in their local economies. In many established meetups, you will find leaders who dedicate their time and energy to developing Bitcoin on a daily basis. They are passionate people who care about Bitcoin and their community. A frequently asked question to meetup organizers and regulars by newcomers is: “Where should I buy bitcoin?” The organizer can send them a referral code for one of the few bitcoin-centric exchanges after explaining some of the trade-offs or personal preferences and the newbie will create another account. It doesn’t have to be.
Small businesses are the backbone of any local community and have the most to gain from adopting a Bitcoin standard due to increased government intervention. Simply put, when you are forced to do business with fiat in a hyperinflationary environment, it becomes very difficult to stay in business. The best thing any business can do is start accepting bitcoin as payment and start holding it in reserve. As such, the current push for small businesses around the world to be set up to accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services is significant. However, it is largely forgotten that bitcoin adoption is not at a point where many consumers have bitcoin at all, let alone willing to spend. To accept bitcoin as payment, customers must have easy access to bitcoin. As it is, the overwhelming majority of people who walk into a store and see a discount for paying bitcoin that they want to take advantage of, are forced to add something to their to-do list that becomes a secondary priority as soon as let them walk out the door. This bitcoin access sticking point reinforces consumer sentiment that bitcoin is too complicated and not ready for retail.
If the bitcoin meet participant or local small business customer decides to embark on the adventure of buying bitcoin on an exchange, they are sacrificing a lot of time, privacy, and mental energy to reach their objective. At the end of it, we gave up our identity in order to gain access to a database that does not require it. Everything from account verification, to transferring money on an exchange, to making a purchase and withdrawing bitcoin from the exchange (provided they are properly motivated to do so), this process can take up to a week or more. To make matters worse, this trip is fully documented by the stock exchange, your bank, and the government.
There are a handful of ways to access bitcoin outside of exchanges but, in my opinion, there is only one easy and easily accessible way for everyone – Azteco’s Bitcoin Voucher System. Azteco has implemented a system as simple as three steps: find a supplier, buy a voucher (ideally in cash) and scan the QR code. If you don’t have one of the compatible wallets, you’ll need to download one to your mobile phone, but ultimately this is an interaction that can take a few minutes at most. I see it as a quick, easy, and private process and it immediately puts the consumer in full control of their Bitcoin. To me, Azteco’s bitcoin coupons are bitcoins made simple.
It is something that is readily available all over the world, but not so much in the United States. This is why BitRamp was created – to distribute access to Bitcoin vouchers to two groups that are slowly playing an increasingly important role in Bitcoin adoption; meetups and small businesses. I think BitRamp, an Azteco partner, makes it very easy for both groups to start offering on-ramp via bitcoin coupons by significantly reducing the initial capital required to do so. Now, someone can attend a meet for the first time and within minutes experience Bitcoin Sovereign Custody. A small business owner can now offer their customers access to the payment of their choice in a fast, private and very easy way.
Now, meetups and small businesses have the option to offer bitcoin coupons directly to their regular customers/attendees and newcomers, to be bitcoin gateways for their community. Meetup organizers no longer need to send home project newcomers to buy bitcoins on an exchange. Now the encounter organizer can reduce friction and educate each participant on the value of a sovereign stack and allow them to take custody immediately, without delay. Great for onboarding and great for DCA, everyone wins with Bitcoin vouchers. And it’s happening all over the country – meetups are bringing this tool to their attendees and the response has been powerful. Additionally, a small percentage of every sale is donated to the meet to support their ongoing efforts in their community. Participants can support their local meet by using the best avenue available to buy bitcoins. Buy local bitcoin and support adoption in your local community.
Small businesses that understand the value of accepting bitcoin as payment no longer need to turn customers away before they can experience bitcoin and participate in the incentive. If the business wants to pass the savings on credit card transactions to their customer and remove the risk of chargebacks, they have the option of making bitcoin readily available to their customers to support that decision and experience the Lightning Network. They will undoubtedly see an increase in sales made in bitcoin if bitcoin is readily available to customers. Even if a small business doesn’t want to accept bitcoin as payment just yet, they can view bitcoin vouchers as a new item to sell in their store, a way to attract new customers and capitalize on bitcoin’s popularity. without having any exposure to bitcoin itself.
While many people sit on the sidelines waiting for all sorts of things to happen on a national or global scale, it is in the local community that these grassroots individual movements are bringing bitcoin to light for their neighbors. Meetups and small businesses advance adoption through education and engagement, showing their neighbors that they no longer have to give up their future monetary prospects to a seek-and-destroy establishment. These community leaders can now add fuel to their fire with Bitcoin vouchers and make Bitcoin easily accessible to everybody in their community, while educating and onboarding the next billion users.
This is a guest post by Doug. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.