Want to pay for dinner with bitcoin? Try Nara Sushi in San Francisco. Pay for a yoga session with bitcoin? You can do that over at Monkey Yoga.

Bitcoin, the best-known of the cryptocurrencies, is not without controversy, but one fact is indisputable: numerous merchants and venues are willing to accept the digital currency for payment. In this article, we identify which cities are at the forefront of embracing the virtual currency.

Key Takeaways

  • The first bitcoin was mined in 2009 and now thousands of merchants around the world accept the virtual currency for payment. 
  • Enthusiasts can purchase bitcoin at thousands of ATMs globally.
  • As the tech capital of the U.S., San Francisco figures prominently on our list of bitcoin hotspots.

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. Similarly, we looked at Coin ATM Radar, which shows the locations of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency ATMs across the world.

Here are the 10 leading cities as of early 2020:

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 two dozen merchants accept bitcoin, including nine restaurants, a bakery and two bars. There are 19 places to buy bitcoin from an ATM. Not bad, given its relatively small population of 880,000.

2. Vancouver

Bitcoin has a strong community in Canada, which has taken regulatory steps to embrace the 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. More than two dozen merchants in Vancouver accept bitcoin. Residents can buy bitcoin at nearly 40 ATMs. In fact, the world's first bitcoin ATM began operations at Waves Coffee House on October 29, 2003, in downtown Vancouver. The city is home to more than 631,000 residents.

3. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is home to mining hardware maker Bitfury and the European headquarters of payment service provider BitPay.  More than 30 merchants accept bitcoin in the capital city, including a bike rental, a barber and an antique ring shop. The city's 840,000 residents have about 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 four bitcoin ATMs 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 more than a dozen merchants accepting bitcoin and two 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 3,800 members. 

6. Zurich

The largest city in Switzerland and a leading financial center, Zurich has about two dozen businesses that accept bitcoin and 10 ATMs serving a population of more than 428,000.   

7. Tampa, Florida

This city of 392,000 residents has about four dozen merchants who say they accept bitcoin and a surprising 45 bitcoin ATMs.   

8. Buenos Aires

More than 100 merchants in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area accept bitcoin, and you'll find 11 bitcoin ATMs in the city of 2.9 million people.   In Argentina, a country notorious for repeated currency and debt crises, bitcoin has received a warm welcome so far.

9. New York

The financial and tech hub of 8.4 million people can spend their bitcoin at about three dozen merchants in the five boroughs and buy bitcoin at 14 ATMs.   New York is home to the Gemini exchange founded by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

10. London

The capital of the United Kingdom is home to 8.9 million residents, more than 130 bitcoin ATMs and about 50 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.

Runners Up

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 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.