Ever wanted to buy something with bitcoin? There are now some 15,000 businesses that accept payment in cryptocurrency around the world, and more than 2,000 of them are in the United States. You can use bitcoin to pay for lunch at Miami's Pizza Bar, or a play at Portsmouth's Seacoast Repertory Theater.
Bitcoin is not without controversy, but one fact is indisputable: more and more merchants and venues are willing to accept digital currency for payment. In this article, we identify which cities are at the forefront of embracing virtual currency.
- The first bitcoin was mined in 2009; now, thousands of merchants around the world accept virtual currency for payment.
- Enthusiasts can purchase bitcoin at thousands of ATMs globally.
- As the technology capital of the U.S., San Francisco figures prominently on our list of bitcoin hotspots.
- Several municipal governments are seeking to attract crypto businesses by facilitating bitcoin adoption.
- El Salvador was the first country to officially make bitcoin legal tender, in 2021.
How to Measure Bitcoin Adoption
To compile this list, we looked at three metrics: the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in each city, the number of bitcoin ATMs available, and population size relative to bitcoin activity. For merchant data, we looked at Coinmap, a collaborative tool for listing and locating businesses that accept bitcoin, and Coin ATM Radar, which shows the location of bitcoin ATMs. We also considered the presence of major crypto businesses and industry leaders.
Here are ten leading cities for bitcoin adoption, as of October 10, 2021:
1. San Francisco
Not surprisingly, the technology capital of the United States figures prominently on our list. San Francisco is home to cryptocurrency trading platforms Coinbase and Kraken. More than a hundred merchants accept bitcoin, from restaurants and bars to hostels and stores. There are 437 bitcoin ATMs in the Bay Area, including 65 in the city of San Francisco itself. Not bad, given its relatively small population of 880,000.
Bitcoin has a strong community in Canada, which has taken regulatory steps to embrace virtual currency. Vancouver is home QuadrigaCX, the defunct cryptocurrency exchange that lost C$180 million in client funds after the alleged death of its founder. There are more than fifty merchants who accept bitcoin in Vancouver or the surrounding suburbs, and 221 locations to buy bitcoin. In fact, the world's first bitcoin ATM began operations at Waves Coffee House on October 29, 2013, in downtown Vancouver. The city is home to more than 631,000 residents.
Amsterdam is home to mining hardware maker Bitfury and the European headquarters of payment service provider BitPay. Coinmap identifies more than forty places to spend bitcoin in the Dutch capital, including bike repair shops, barbers, and coffee shops. The city's 840,000 residents have about half a dozen bitcoin ATMs available to them. Merchants in Utrecht, Rotterdam, and The Hague also accept cryptocurrency.
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and its largest city, yet it is the smallest on our list with a population of about 289,000. The prominent bitcoin exchange Bitstamp was founded by Slovenians before setting up operations in Luxembourg and London. Ljubljana has eleven bitcoin ATMs in the city and surrounding areas, and roughly 200 merchants who say they accept bitcoin.
5. Tel Aviv
Israel's financial center and one of the world's leading cities for startups has nineteen merchants accepting bitcoin and seven bitcoin ATMs in a population of 451,000. The Israel Bitcoin Meetup Group in Tel Aviv is among the most active in the world with more than 4,000 members.
6. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
This small coastal city is home to a surprisingly large community of cryptocurrency users. Dubbed "bitcoin village" by local residents, the downtown area is home to about a dozen crypto-friendly businesses, including the Seacoast Repertory Theatre and the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe. There are also 21 bitcoin ATMs and tellers in Portsmouth and nearby towns—a surprisingly high figure for a town of only 22,000.
7. Miami, Florida
This major metropolis has about four dozen merchants who say they accept bitcoin and a surprising 651 bitcoin ATMs and tellers. It is also home to the Miami Bitcoin Conference, one of the oldest and largest conventions of the cryptocurrency industry. The city's government is seeking to attract blockchain businesses to their city, and Mayor Francis Suarez has proposed investing city funds in bitcoin and even launching a municipal cryptocurrency.
8. El Zonte, El Salvador
This tiny tourist town is now seeking to rebrand itself as "Bitcoin Beach," the world's first bitcoin-centered economy, following a substantial crypto donation to the municipal government. The town received its first bitcoin ATM in 2020, one of 1500 being installed around the country as El Salvador moved to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender. Bitcoin can now be used to pay taxes, and foreign investors will not be subject to capital gains taxes. The national government has also worked with entrepreneurs to introduce a simplified bitcoin wallet for low-fee transactions.
9. New York
The financial and tech hub of 8.4 million people can spend their bitcoin at about three dozen merchants in the metro area, including the Bitcoin Store in lower Manhattan and CryptoART in Morningside Heights. New York is also a major hub for crypto startups and media companies, such as CoinDesk, Decrypt, and CoinTelegraph, as well as home to Consensus, one of the largest annual events in the crypto industry.
The capital of the United Kingdom is home to 8.9 million residents, 50 bitcoin ATMs, and about the same number of merchants who will accept bitcoin for payment. Startups based in the city include Coinfloor, which claims to be the oldest bitcoin exchange in the U.K. There are also dozens of bitcoin and cryptocurrency Meetup groups in London.
Other regions becoming more accepting of bitcoin and cryptocurrency include Cyprus and Malta, as well as countries experiencing economic uncertainty and currency volatility such as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
The Bottom Line
Since the first block was mined in 2009, bitcoin has made substantial inroads. The impressive rate of adoption suggests that virtual currencies are here to stay. While it is not surprising that international financial centers have embraced bitcoin, it's interesting that smaller towns have done so, too.