In April 2015, an article was published on the BBC News website about “Bitcoin Island” – a place where you could use Bitcoin to buy a pint of beer from The Thirsty Pigeon and then scan a QR code to pay for your taxi ride home. The price of one bitcoin was a mere £230, and a fresh-faced Charlie Woolnough (Co-founder of leading Bitcoin exchange, CoinCorner) pondered the future of the “currency of the internet”. He needn’t have worried. Seven years later, the Isle of Man remains at the forefront of global Bitcoin adoption, thanks to continued technological innovation and community involvement. At the time of writing, more than 100 local businesses are registered with CoinCorner, with 34 accepting Bitcoin for goods and services.
Check out this map for where to spend.
Innovation – The Bolt Card
The Bolt Card is a world-first contactless card from CoinCorner. It utilises the Lightning Network to send low-cost, near-instant Bitcoin payments. Whilst the pioneering merchants of 2015 had to wait for around ten minutes for Bitcoin transactions to be confirmed on the blockchain, Lightning payments only take a second or two. The customer experience is vastly improved; instead of awkwardly scanning a QR code, a single tap is all it takes. It’s so simple, even a child can pay with Bitcoin !
If you have a few “satoshis” to spend and you’re looking for somewhere nice to eat, you’re spoiled for choice on the Isle of Man, with over 20 restaurants accepting Bitcoin so far. As an avid foodie, I was very keen to sample the local eateries when I arrived on the island earlier this year (you can read more about my initial experiences buying lunch with the Bolt Card here). From the delightful Indian lunch menu at Street Kitchen, to Jamie’s sumptuous bagels at Roots by the Sea, to authentic French crêpes from BreizhVannin Crêperie… I was certainly not disappointed, and you won’t be either! It might just be psychological, but I’m convinced that every meal tastes better when you pay with the best money the world has ever known!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Bitcoin adoption is limited to food and drink. Award-winning, locally owned car dealership Rex Motor Company has sold 11 luxury cars for Bitcoin so far in 2022. Elsewhere, independent streetwear store, The Boredroom, didn’t have to wait long after going live to make their first sale, with a local bitcoiner known only as “Son of Satoshi” picking up a rather special skateboard within days of the Bolt Card launch. The benefits of accepting Bitcoin are clear: lower fees mean increased profit margins, faster settlement helps cash flow, and marketing opportunities are plentiful. For businesses which are apprehensive about Bitcoin’s volatility, CoinCorner also offers instant conversion to pounds.
Despite the significant progress to date, it’s important to recognise that we’re still early. The prospect of living on a “Bitcoin Standard” is enticing for some (myself included!), but it will require supermarkets, hotels, petrol stations and tradesmen to get on board. Business Development Manager, Ben Collins is characteristically optimistic: “Bitcoin adoption is already putting the Isle of Man on the map, with enthusiasts from around the world planning their visits. This potential impact on tourism and the local economy over the next few years is massive. It won’t be long before you can live on a Bitcoin Standard!”
The UK is starting to follow suit, with a handful of Bitcoin-friendly merchants cropping up around the country, including:
- Kapucin, a delightful speciality coffee shop in Richmond
- Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park, a family friendly tourist attraction (complete with pig-racing and life-size animatronic dinosaurs!)
- Harrowden Books of Finedon, a traditional bookshop in Northamptonshire
- The Suffolk Jungle Room, dog-friendly cafe and self-proclaimed “Houseplant Haven”
- Root & Branch Coffee, Belfast’s first micro-roastery
In retrospect, they’ll say it was inevitable. But we’ll look back fondly to the humble beginnings on Bitcoin Island, as we enjoy a familiar pint in The Thirsty Pigeon.
If you’d like to get your hands on a Bolt Card, go to coincorner.com/theboltcard
If your business is interested in accepting Bitcoin, go to coincorner.com/merchantregister