They say crypto is borderless. And when you trade Bitcoin or receive some as payment for a job you completed, it is.
But what if you want to spend Bitcoin in person? As BTC, and other currencies like Ethereum or Litecoin, begin to take off some parts of the world are embracing crypto more than others.
While tech hubs like San Francisco or Seoul are obvious hotspots, there are unexpected crypto-cities popping up like Prague, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, or Bangkok.
In order to find Bitcoin hotspots around the world, I used Coinmap on July 24, 2018. I recorded the number of BTC-vendors listed in a city and did not include corresponding suburbs. In theory, this puts cities with urban sprawl at a disadvantage but I didn't want human error to skew the data, as I am more familiar with North American cities like New York or Los Angeles and would be more inclined to include their suburbs rather than Tokyo's. It also bears mentioning that CoinMap relies on crowdsourcing to list all BTC-accepting vendors.
Without further ado, these are top ten Bitcoin hotspots from around the world, as well as some takeaways about where, and how, Bitcoin use is spreading.
The Biggest Bitcoin Hotspots in the World
Prague, the Czech Republic boasts the most Bitcoin-accepting vendors in the world. One crypto nomad spent the summer there in 2017 just because of all the BTC-accepting vendors. The country has a high density of businesses in rural areas as well, with Žatec home to over 50 BTC-accepting businesses.
Buenos Aires in Argentina boasted the second most Bitcoin businesses in the world. South America in general is a Bitcoin-heavy continent, with cities like Bogotá, Colombia; Caracas, Venezuela; and São Paulo, Brazil featuring over 30 BTC-accepting businesses.
Third on the list of best bitcoin cities is San Francisco with over 100 BTC-accepting businesses. When Felix Weis visited the American city during his 18-month Bitcoin-only challenge he said it was almost too easy to spend only crypto there. It certainly seems to have come a long way since 2013, when former Forbes staffer and now journalist at Gizmodo Media Kashmir Hill spent a week spending only BTC.
Rounding out the top five was Madrid, Spain and New York City, the United States. Amsterdam, the Netherlands claimed the sixth spot, while Bogotá, Colombia trailed at number seven. Vancouver, Canada came in eighth, follow by London, the United Kingdom and then Paris, France.
Regions like the Middle East, Africa and Asia were noticeable absent from the top ten, although many crypto nomads report spending time in South East Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Tel Aviv, Israel also boasts burgeoning BTC-use, as well as Cape Town, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; and Sydney, Australia.
The Urban-Rural Divide of BTC
One interesting takeaway is that Bitcoin hotspots are not necessarily all urban. Some countries with overall high densities of crypto businesses like Brazil, Thailand or the United Kingdom boast similar frequencies of BTC-accepting vendors in small towns or regions as in capital cities. For example, Arnhem, The Netherlands boasts over 80 BTC-accepting businesses, while Amsterdam only has 43.
The Rise of Crypto Business Hubs
Governments around the world are having varied reactions to Bitcoin. On one hand, international business hubs like Switzerland and Singapore have opened their arms to crypto, but where the local government is unsupportive, it follows that there are fewer BTC-vendors.
Some countries, like China, initially embraced cryptocurrency only to shut down exchanges later on, meaning that cities like Beijing barely rank in terms of BTC-accepting businesses. Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia have been hesitant about adopting crypto and are noticeably absent from the world map.
When Bitcoin Offers a Break from Inflation
One of the most interesting trends in international Bitcoin use is how the currency is used globally to shore up inflation. Citizens in countries like Argentina, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are adopting Bitcoin as the currency offers more protection against inflation than fiat.
Laura Shin, former Forbes staffer and host of two crypto podcasts, discussed this point recently on her Unconfirmed podcast with Alex Gladstein who said that 8% of the world's bitcoin transactions were occurring in Venezuela. Shin confirmed that statistic and pointed out that "Venezuela does not have 8% of the world's population."
"Americans say I don't see the point [in crypto]," said Shin. But when the journalist speaks with people from countries where the fiat currency is not stable, she says they really see the usefulness.
No matter why a country is adopting Bitcoin, one only needs to look at our graphic (or CoinMap) to see that it is truly global.
"We always sold international flights but our clients skewed more toward Americans," said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, a booking website that began offering crypto payment options in 2013. To date, they've sold over $15 million in flights and hotels with Bitcoin, and now also accept Litecoin and Dash payments." Once we [accepted] Bitcoin, people from all different countries have become interested in us."