This is an opinion editorial by Doug, founder of Bitramp and a proponent of local bitcoin on-ramps.
The path most traveled in exchanging fiat for access to Bitcoin involves utilizing the service of exchanges, as they are the most marketed, perceived convenient and fiat-aligned path to do so. This will not always be the case as options are emerging around us, with one in particular that eliminates the friction of the legacy system and provides access to Bitcoin for everyone. Everyone. What’s the solution? First, let’s talk about who is forging this path. There are two main groups that will help to distribute this solution into local communities — Bitcoin meetups and small businesses. This transformation is well underway.
Bitcoin meetups are quickly becoming the epicenter of Bitcoin education and advancement in any city. Weekly and monthly gatherings are taking place in many small towns and cities across the country, with more being established every week. Meetups are a place where the Bitcoin novices and experts alike join to commune, educate and collaborate on ways to advance adoption in their local economies. In many of the established meetups you’ll find leaders who are devoting their time and energy daily to building on Bitcoin. These are passionate individuals who care about Bitcoin and their community. A common question meetup organizers and regulars are asked by newcomers is, “Where should I buy bitcoin?” The organizer may send them a referral code for any of a few bitcoin-centric exchanges after explaining some of the tradeoffs or personal preferences and off the newbie goes to setup another account. This doesn’t need to be the case.
Small businesses are the backbone of any local community and have the most to gain by adopting a Bitcoin standard due to increased government intervention. Simply put, when you’re forced to do business with fiat in a hyperinflationary environment, it becomes very difficult to stay in business. The best thing any business can do is start accepting bitcoin as payment and to begin holding it in their reserves. As such, the current push to get small businesses everywhere set up to accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services is important. However, it is widely overlooked that bitcoin adoption is not at a point where many consumers have bitcoin at all, let alone ready to spend. To accept bitcoin as payment, customers must have easy access to bitcoin. As it currently stands, the overwhelming majority of people who walk into a store and see a discount for paying in bitcoin that they want to take advantage of, are forced to add something to their to-do list that becomes low priority as soon as they walk out the door. This friction point of accessing bitcoin reinforces consumer sentiment that bitcoin is too complicated and isn’t ready for retail.
If the attendee of the Bitcoin meetup or customer of a local small business does decide to embark on the journey of buying bitcoin on an exchange, they sacrifice a great deal of time, privacy and mental energy in order to accomplish their goal. By the end of it, one has surrendered their identity in order to obtain access to a database that doesn’t require it. All things said, from account verification to moving money onto an exchange, making a purchase, and moving bitcoin off the exchange (provided they’re properly motivated to do so), this process can take up to a week or more. To make matters worse, this journey is completely documented by the exchange, your bank and the government.
There are a handful of ways to gain access to bitcoin outside of exchanges but, in my opinion, there is only one way that is easy and readily accessible for everyone — Azteco’s Bitcoin voucher system. Azteco has built a system that is as simple as three steps: Find a vendor, purchase a voucher (ideally with cash) and scan the QR code. If you don’t have one of the compatible wallets, you’ll need to download one on your mobile phone but ultimately this is an interaction that can take a couple of minutes at most. I see it as a fast, easy and private process and it leaves the consumer in full control of their Bitcoin immediately. To me, Azteco’s bitcoin vouchers are bitcoin made easy.
This is something that’s readily available all over the world — however, not so much in the USA. This is why BitRamp was created — to distribute access to Bitcoin vouchers to two groups that are slowly playing an ever-increasing role in Bitcoin adoption; meetups and small businesses. I believe that BitRamp, an Azteco partner, makes it very easy for both groups to start offering an on-ramp via bitcoin vouchers by significantly reducing the up-front capital required to do so. Now, someone can attend a meetup for the first time and within minutes, experience sovereign Bitcoin custody. A small business owner can now provide customers access to their preferred payment of choice in a way that’s fast, private and very easy.
Now, meetups and small businesses have the ability to offer bitcoin vouchers directly to their regular customers/attendees and newcomers alike, to be bitcoin onramps for their community. No longer do meetup organizers need to send newcomers away for an at-home project to purchase bitcoin on an exchange. Now, the meetup organizer can reduce the friction and educate every attendee on the value of a sovereign stack and empower them to take custody immediately, without delay. Great for onboarding and great for DCA, everyone wins with bitcoin vouchers. And this is happening all over the country — meetups are bringing this tool to their attendees and the response has been powerful. Plus, a small percentage of every sale goes to the meetup to support their ongoing efforts in their community. Attendees can support their local meetup by utilizing the best available avenue to buy bitcoin. Buy bitcoin local and support adoption in your local community.
No longer do small businesses who understand the value of accepting bitcoin as payment need to send customers away before they can experience bitcoin and partake in the incentive. If the business wants to pass the credit card transaction savings to their customer and remove the risk of chargebacks, they have the ability to make bitcoin readily available for their customers to support that decision and experience the Lightning Network. They will undoubtedly see an increase in sales made in bitcoin if bitcoin is readily available for customers to access. Even if a small business doesn’t want to accept Bitcoin as payment yet, they can view bitcoin vouchers as a new item to sell in their shop, a way to bring in a new customer base and a way to capitalize on the popularity of bitcoin without having any exposure to bitcoin itself.
While many people are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for any variety of things to happen on a national or global scale, it is in the local community where these individual grassroots movements are shining the light on bitcoin for their neighbors. Meetups and small businesses are advancing adoption through education and engagement, showing their neighbors that they no longer are forced to forfeit their future monetary prospects to an establishment that seeks and destroys. These community leaders can now add fuel to their fire with bitcoin vouchers and make Bitcoin readily available to everyone in their community, while they educate and onboard the next billion users.
This is a guest post by Doug. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.