Want to pay for pay for dinner in bitcoins? Try Ramen Underground in San Francisco. Buy groceries with bitcoins? You can do it at Spar in Arnhem, the Netherlands.
Bitcoin, the best-known of the cryptocurrencies, is not without controversy, but one fact is indisputable: more and more venues accept it. In this article, we identify cities that are at the forefront of embracing the virtual currency.
Several different metrics were used in compiling this list, including the number of bitcoin merchants in the city, the number of bitcoin ATMs, and the population size relative to bitcoin activity. Bitcoin maps like the collaborative one offered on coinmap.org allow you to view current bitcoin-accepting businesses by city or country. Similarly, Coin ATM Radar shows the locations of bitcoin ATMs across the world.
Here are the 10 leading cities, ranked in order of the strongest bitcoin presence:
1. San Francisco, U.S. Not surprisingly, California's tech Mecca figures a prominent role in our list. The city currently has 177 merchants accepting bitcoin and 29 bitcoin ATMs – not bad, given its relatively small population of 837,000. San Francisco is home to startups such as Coinbase, developer of the world’s most popular bitcoin wallet.
2. Vancouver, Canada. Bitcoin has a strong community in Canada, which was the first country to sign an official law regulating the virtual currency. Vancouver boasts 86 bitcoin-accepting merchants and an impressive 48 bitcoin ATMs. The city of 578,000 inaugurated the world’s first bitcoin ATM and is the headquarters of the Quadriga CX Bitcoin exchange.
3. Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The capital of the Netherlands has a robust 74 merchants accepting bitcoin and one bitcoin ATM for a population of 779,000. Nearby cities Utrecht and the Hague are also havens for the cryptocurrency. Amsterdam is home to leading bitcoin startups including BitFury and BitPay.
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia. The smallest city on our list with a population of only 272,000, Ljubljana has 51 merchants accepting bitcoin and five ATMs. The prominent bitcoin exchange Bitstamp is headquartered in Ljubljana.
5. Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel's financial center and one of the world's leading cities for startups has 58 merchants accepting bitcoin and four bitcoin ATMs in a population of 404,000. The Israel Bitcoin Meetup Group in Tel Aviv is among the most active in the world with 1,785 members.
6. Zurich, Switzerland. The largest city in Switzerland and a leading financial center, Zurich has 64 merchants accepting bitcoin and eight ATMs serving a population of 366,000.
7. Tampa, U.S. The Florida city of 352,000 people has a surprising 93 merchants accepting bitcoin, more than most of the largest cities in the U.S., and 13 bitcoin ATMs.
8. Buenos Aires, Argentina. The leading bitcoin city in South America, Buenos Aires has 130 merchants accepting bitcoin and three bitcoin ATM in the city of 2.9 million people. In a country famous for currency crisis, bitcoin has found a warm welcome so far.
9. New York, U.S. The Big Apple has 122 merchants accepting bitcoin and 117 bitcoin ATMs catering to a population of 8.4 million. The financial and tech hub is home to bitcoin startup Coinsetter, a 'Wall Street-built' bitcoin exchange.
10. London, U.K. The United Kingdom capital and global financial powerhouse of 8.3 million residents has 88 merchants accepting bitcoin and 74 bitcoin ATMs. London-based bitcoin startups include Coinfloor, a bitcoin exchange, and Elliptic, a bitcoin vault. The London Bitcoin Meetup group is currently the largest in the world with 2,311 members.
The Bottom Line
Since its origin in 2009, bitcoin has made substantial strides towards becoming the world's first global currency. The impressive rate of adoption suggests that that virtual currencies are here to stay. While it's not surprising that international financial center cities have embraced bitcoin, it's interesting that smaller towns have too.