Want a Subway sandwich in Argentina? Pay for it with bitcoin. How about a Microbrew in Singapore? Buy one with bitcoin. Or maybe some home cooking from the Brooklyn Cafe in Glasgow - you can get big bites with your bitcoin.
But what if you’re in the United States and just want a gallon of milk from the market, a late night pizza or a simple $1.6M new home in Lake Tahoe?
Every day, more and more US businesses are accepting cryptocurrency, and as the number of vendors grows, so too does the number of online and offline communities dedicated to bitcoin investors.
Which got us thinking: what are the most bitcoin-friendly cities in the United States?
Quantity of Vendors
If you want to know whether you live in a Bitcoin friendly town, the first step is to look at a map. Seems obvious, but as more vendors come online and savvy consumers help get businesses listed, Bitcoin maps like CoinMap.org and Bitcoincity.us are gaining momentum.
A quick look at CoinMap reveals some obvious and not-so-obvious Bitcoin hot spots across the United States:
Map of bitcoin-friendly vendors across the United States. (Source: CoinMap)
Based on numbers alone, Los Angeles (170 vendors reported) and New York (149 vendors reported) lead the way.
While only a slight lead, there is evidence of a strong vendor presence in Los Angeles. A quick scan of Yelp shows a wide range of LA-based stores that accept Bitcoin, from markets to vape galleries to comics and collectibles stores. Los Angeles also recently got its first Bitcoin ATM.
With easy access to financial markets and finance experts, and a growing start-up community, it shouldn’t be surprising that “The City That Never Sleeps” isn’t sleeping on Bitcoin either. According to CoinMap.org, there now appear to be approximately 56 vendors in Manhattan, 13 in Brooklyn, 5 in Queens, 2 in The Bronx and a handful of vendors on Long Island and east New Jersey.
Next up is...Dallas you say? Dallas indeed. Dallas recently received it’s first Bitcoin ATM and is up to about 104 vendors where Bitcoin is accepted in Dallas and nearby Ft. Worth.
It’s a tight race for 4th and 5th. In 4th right now is Kansas City, where Bitcoin seems to be enjoying a solid bump. Car dealerships like Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler are now accepting Bitcoin payments, as is Tivol jewelry and The Modern Maids cleaning service.
Rounding out the top five is San Francisco, a city with a forward-thinking citizenry quick to embrace new trends and where many major Bitcoin startups originated. This willingness to experiment extends to merchants too as more fashion retailers in SF are starting to accept Bitcoin.
Quality of Community
Numbers really only tell us part of the story though. In each of these cities, it’s the community that will ultimately drive acceptance and more widespread adoption. So it’s important to look beyond the numbers to Reddit, Meetup and even Twitter to gauge cryptocurrency engagement in the community.
There are Bitcoin subreddits now dedicated to The Bay Area (CA), Asheville, Albuquerque, Pennsylvania, Nashville, Austin, Seattle and New York City. The Bay Area subreddit has the most activity. Over 550 different meetups focus on Bitcoin. In just the Los Angeles Bitcoin Meetup alone there are 862 members.
Many local communities have also taken to social media to connect and share info. The Dallas Bitcoin Twitter account keeps its followers up-to-date on the latest Bitcoin news in Big D.
In other cities the efforts to organize are more organic and intimate. For instance, while Cleveland only has 22 vendors reported, Bitcoin users are rallying around vendors who now accept Bitcoin payments. In a recent article, The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights talks about how local residents began hosting meetups in their store, just because the store accepted bitcoin payments.
In Nashville, the Tennessee Bitcoin Alliance is gaining traction, having recently voted in its new board of directors. These types of groups are popping up around the country. They aim to educate consumers who are interested in Bitcoin, and make sure they understand all of the benefits and risks involved.
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that live in a city with a variety of merchants that accept bitcoin. If you are, that’s great! Support your local vendors, join in local community activities and continue making positive contributions.
If you aren’t in one of those cities, take a cue from Cleveland or Nashville and take initiative. If you’re a local business that wants to start accepting Bitcoin, check out this helpful guide.
If you’re a consumer, contribute to resources like CoinMap.org and help get local businesses listed. Then look for ways in which you can organize those in your own community, both online and off.