Are you an avid traveler, but also a crypto enthusiast keen on using digital coins instead of cash? Well, look no further, as this list provides the most crypto-friendly cities and how coins have seeped into the economies of these places.

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

There are plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam: architecture, museums, food, and bustling nightlife. Another thing that makes Amsterdam a prime location is its status as one of the world’s top crypto friendly cities.

Amsterdam has made a progress  when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. The city is also home to the Bitcoin Embassy. The Bitcoin Embassy in Amsterdam is where the crypto community actively puts in their efforts to promote Bitcoin. Also, as of 2015, Amsterdam opened its Bitcoin Boulevard, a street where most merchants accept Bitcoin as payment for their products and services.

The city is home to more than 40 merchants which accept Bitcoin, as well as many crypto ATMs. Also, many crypto startups and ICOs have set up their base of operation in Amsterdam, which is seen as one of the best cities for tech startups in Europe.

amsterdam

Source: Pixabay

8. Singapore, Malaysia

After China’s ban on ICOs, many businesses from the crypto space relocated their operations to Singapore. imToken, a prominent Ethereum wallet, also moved its office to Singapore. Singapore regulators have a transparent approach when it comes to cryptocurrencies. This creates an environment which has less uncertainty for crypto companies than in other crypto climates.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has even put out a “Guide to Digital Token Offering,” which covers how security laws apply to token offerings. Furthermore, Singapore’s regulations do not affect utility tokens, as stated by Damien Pang, the head of Singapore’s Technology Infrastructure Office under the FinTech & Innovation Group (FTIG). At the Consensus Singapore, Pang said that only payment tokens would be affected by the regulations.

7. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is one of the smallest cities in Europe that never ceases to impress when it comes to tech innovation and crypto adoption.

Ljubljana is also home to the world’s first Bitcoin-friendly mall, “Bitcoin City,” which was opened earlier this year. This impressive mall is over 1.56 million square feet, to be more precise. All merchants that have shops in the mall accept Bitcoin and make use of blockchain technology. Bitcoin City is more than just a mall, also serving as a large business and recreational center.

Ljubljana is also where Bitstamp, one of the most popular crypto exchanges, has established its headquarter.

6. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina’s capital and also its the largest city has become one of the most crypto friendly cities out of necessity rather than love for this tech. As the country entered a deep recession a few years ago, the inflation in Argentina reached nearly 25%.

This decline in the Argentinian peso and capital control enforced by the government prompted many Argentinians to turn to cryptocurrency, Bitcoin in particular. Also, many merchants started supporting Bitcoin as a payment method. Currently, there are more than 120 businesses that function by using this cryptocurrency.

Buenos Aires also hosted the first Bitcoin conference to ever take place in Latin America. The conference , “Bitcoin Day,” was held in April last year. Moreover, startups like SatoshiTango, Ripio (formerly BitPagos), and Buda call this city home.

Earlier this year, Athena Bitcoin, an American Bitcoin ATM company, revealed that it intends on setting up the first Bitcoin ATMs in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires

Source: Pixabay

4. Toronto, Canada

The light regulations for cryptos and ICOs, as well as the supportive attitude of its government towards tech startups make Canada one of the most welcoming countries for blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Toronto has become one of the world’s most crypto friendly cities and hosts a number of successful crypto enterprises. One example is Decentral, the company which created Jaxx, a well-established cryptocurrency wallet.

Also, according to data from Coin ATM Radar, over 200 crypto ATMs are spread across Toronto. This is one of the biggest numbers of ATMs that can be found in any city worldwide.

3. Zug, Switzerland

Zug is a small city that has less than 30,000 people living in it. Though it isn’t as well known as the other cities in the list, it constantly appears in blockchain and cryptocurrency news. It is regarded to be one of the most technologically advanced cities on a global scale.

Many important crypto companies are based here, Zug earning the nickname of “Crypto Valley”. For instance, the notorious Tezos ICO was held in this city last year.

A few years ago, Zug became the first city that accepted Bitcoin for paying taxes. Additionally, the municipality has recently started accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for government services on a trial basis.

zug

Source: cryptovalley.swiss

2. New York City, New York

New York is home to more than 100 merchants which support Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency payments. Also, there are more than 150 crypto ATMs spread across the city.

Some crypto startups started out in New York. For instance, Coinsetter, one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges, was established in New York back in 2012. In 2016, Coinsetter was bought by Kraken in one of the biggest M&A deals to ever occur in the cryptosphere.

Furthermore, New York even has its own digital asset, the New York Coin. However, it has a market cap of just $3.65 million.

1. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is the first on our list for a very good reason. Being known as one of the world’s leading tech hubs, it is no wonder that an emergent technology such as blockchain is present here.

The city has more than 870,000 residents, approximately 60 ATMs that process crypto conversions, and more than 100 retailers who support cryptocurrency payments.

Coinbase, one of the most famous cryptocurrency exchange platforms and the creator of one of the most secure cryptocurrency wallets, is headquartered in San Francisco along with many other cryptocurrency and blockchain companies.

SF

Source: siliconvalleyaircharter.com

Conclusion

This has been our list of the most crypto-friendly cities in the world. Be sure to visit one of them if you intend on using your crypto assets!

*This post is credited to Use The Bitcoin

Shakepay is a Canadian over-the-counter crypto asset trading platform designed for high net-worth persons and businesses who wish to transact large amounts of Bitcoin and Ethereum. According to the CEO of Shakepay, Jean Amiouny, the platform was established to satisfy the demand for a customized solution for trading large volumes of digital assets.

The minimum acceptable investment on the Shakepay OTC platform is CA$50,000. Users can trade the Canadian fiat currency in pairs against Bitcoin and Ethereum. The platform charges a 0.75% trading fee for each transaction which usually takes one business day to settle. The project, which had been testing for the past 12 months, will be operated in partnership with Schedule 1 Bank.

Besides the OTC trading desk, Shakepay also has a cryptocurrency wallet that allows users to transact fiat money against digital currencies. The wallet has several features, including in-app customer support, instant verification, multi-currency support, price alerts and so on. Moreover, Shakepay previously offered crypto-enabled Visa cards but has since discontinued the program. The discontinuation was a result of a directive from Visa to Wave Crest, a partner to Shakepay in this project. Visa ordered wave crest to close all accounts linked with prepaid cards.

Since its inception in 2015, Shakepay has served 40,000 customers and transacted over CA$30 million. Furthermore, the company has been recording significant growth over the past few months. Amiouny stated that the company intends to further this growth by continuously adding new features to their trading platform.

Features Of Shakepay OTC Trading Platform

  • Swift settlement – transactions are settled within one business day.
  • Affordability – the platform charges 0.75% trading fee. Notably, withdrawals are free of charge.
  • Sufficient Liquidity – the OTC desk is lined with leading crypto exchanges as well as offline liquidity pools.
  • BTC & ETH Trading Pairs – users can trade the Canadian dollar against Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Shakepay is accredited to operate throughout Canada by the AMF and FINTRAC.
  • Professional Trading Team – the Shakepay trading team is made of seasoned expert investors.
  • Concierge Service – Shakepay offers custodial services for their users.

*This post is credited to Bitcoin Exchange Guide

MONTREAL — The Canada Border Services Agency and the Port of Montreal have signed on for a trial run of a technology that aims to streamline freight shipping using the power of blockchain.

The federal customs agency and the country’s second-biggest port said they’re dipping their toes into a digital database that functions as a “distributed ledger,” sharing and syncing up data from ocean carriers, ports and wholesalers from Singapore to Peru.

But tugging the shipping world into the digital age could incur headwinds, as data sharing depends on co-operation among competitors and security remains an open question, experts say.

The new technology was developed by International Business Machines Corp. and A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, a Danish shipping container giant.

“Essentially, it’s designed to modernize the shipping industry,” said Manav Gupta, an IBM cloud computing expert and author of “Blockchain for Dummies.”

“When you have a container ship leaving, let’s say a port in Mombasa and going to a port in North America, it can pass through 30 regulatory bodies and port bodies, and all of the interaction currently is paper-based.”

The digitized platform, called TradeLens, aims to replace that paper trail with electronic scheduling, clearance and billing while tracing containers more precisely.

“The maritime industry faces rising cargo volumes and growing market demands. TradeLens is a powerful tool to modernize work processes and cut red tape,” said Jack Mahoney, president of Maersk Canada.

Since TradeLens was launched in August, more than 90 organizations have come on board, including the ports of Halifax, Singapore and Rotterdam, the container carrier Pacific International Lines and customs authorities in Australia and the Netherlands.

Global collaboration among competitors could be key to maximizing the benefits of a blockchain-fuelled platform.

“That’s the only way that it’s going to take off,” said Inma Borrella, who leads the blockchain research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Paper documentation is more prone to error and risk, but forms part of established supply chain habits in a creaky industry, she said.

“Ocean freight in particular is very slow in tech adoption. So that is one of the barriers.”

“There’s interest. All of these companies are exploring the technology. But the return on investment is still not clear,” Borrella added, highlighting TradeLens as the biggest effort so far to wrangle stakeholders into a single machine-learning system.

Pairing competitors could be tough, but smoother dispute resolution is one potential outcome, with a single, shared record of the cargo’s path from castoff to docking clarifying who is responsible in the event of cargo damage or loss.

“What blockchain can provide is a single version of the truth,” Borrella said.

Product bundling is another path to efficiency, said her colleague Maria Jesus Saenz, who leads research into digital supply chain transformation at the MIT centre.

Companies such as Pepsico, Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble, whose products often share retail destinations, have already taken advantage of data-sharing to achieve up to 30 per cent savings on logistics, according to her research.

“The flows can be bundled very easily, because they have the same nodes in their networks,” she said, pointing to shared containers and transport resources.

Questions still swirl around security. On the surface, blockchain software appears more immune to human error than paper documents. But cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which helped hatch blockchain technology, have been hacked over the past decade.

“It’s still a concern, definitely,” Saenz said. “The question is if it is 100 per cent protected or not. I am doubting that.”

The length of the pilot project with CBSA and the Montreal port has not been finalized, IBM said.

“The end result may be a faster and more reliable national supply chain, which could positively impact Canada’s economic output,” said CBSA president John Ossowski.

“We are convinced that joint work on a global scale is part of the key solutions to achieve a better flow of information and goods for the benefit of clients and partners,” said Sylvie Vachon, chief executive of the Montreal Port Authority.

*This post is credited to Financial Post

While Canada has delayed its crypto regulation update until 2020, Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) and General Michael Hayden are joining other prominent leaders in the crypto space at Korea’s Block Seoul event. Could it be the East is winning the blockchain race, attracting the brilliant minds of the West while the Western countries become client states?

Blockchain in South Korea

South Korea is an extremely tech-savvy country that has heavily invested in its internet infrastructure. Samsung and LG have already established themselves as global brands in technology and consumer electronics. Seoul is ranked as the world’s “leading digital city” and a tech capital of the world. South Korea’s top two crypto exchanges (Upbit and Bithumb) are among the top 25 exchanges.

While Korea had its own ICO crackdown, its citizens were already deeply invested in blockchain, contributing to 14 percent of the global crypto market. South Korea lifted the ban later. Korea has taken it even further by potentially integrating blockchain in its voting system.

There is also another boosting factor in Korea: games. The gaming industry is one of the most blockchain-friendly industries. According to Jared Psigoda, CEO of BitGuild, “gamers in particular understand cryptocurrency because virtual money has been a part of gaming for the last 10 years. For example, dating back to World of Warcraft, there was a $100 million market for buying digital gold.”

China’s stance

China is another major player in the crypto-sphere, hosting a substantial share of Bitcoin miners. In 2017, estimates suggested that 50 to 70 percent of all Bitcoin mining took place in that country. Despite strict regulation of cryptocurrencies, China has been significantly more bullish on blockchain. China’s president declared blockchain as “a part of technological revolution” and it is one of the first countries to mention the technology in a state-level policy.

“China is more centralized and top down than the US, but they see the value of the technology,” says Joyce Yang, CEO of Global Coin Research. “In China there are a lot of crypto companies and projects being built, although they are not allowed to market to the citizens, the products are being offered everywhere outside of mainland.” China has more blockchain companies than any other country on Earth.

As Kevin Hobbs, the CEO of The Vanbex Group explains: “Since September 2017 China has banned ICOs, prohibited crypto exchanges and blocked foreign exchanges.” Vanbex is a Canadian company with a great community in China. “That being said I was recently in China at multiple conferences and visiting with multiple blockchain companies and heard nothing but good things about the support the government is giving them. Their work ethic was incredible to see and their belief that blockchain is the future was very evident. I think those countries have a work ethic that gives them a competitive advantage and the ability to move faster to be ahead of the rest.”

Ironically, while some see China as a country of low-quality products, the flaw has actually lead to the birth and acceptance of at least two revolutionary technologies: chatbots and blockchain.

Chatbots were first introduced in WeChat, years ahead of Telegram and Facebook: the reason being numerous product safety scandals. Likewise, numerous counterfeit products have boosted blockchain’s acceptance in supply chains, where it is used to track the products and ensure they are genuine.

Impact of regulations

As regulations and bans kick in, blockchain companies look for safer alternatives. This has turned some territories like Gibraltar and Malta into bases for many ventures and ICOs. Switzerland managed to attract South Korean blockchain platforms ICON and HDAC, while Singapore and Hong Kong took advantage of the bans to become the region’s havens for ICOs and blockchain startups.

Hong Kong is taking blockchain development very seriously, and has announced that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will be working with some of the biggest banks in the world to spearhead a new blockchain platform that will streamline trade finance.

State of blockchain in the US

While the United States dominated the early days of the internet, blockchains are truly cross-border, with millions around the world participating. While the US slowly tiptoes on the technology, rival governments are investing heavily in blockchain research and development. Ultimately, they may monopolize the industry and set their own standards, leaving the US to play catch up.

But, many still look at blockchain with skepticism. As an executive at a Wall Street firm who had been trying to position itself as a leader in the technology puts it, “[blockchain] became a solution in search of a problem.” Vermont was considering blockchain-based public recordkeeping, but a report found that a switch would have high costs and “very limited possible benefits.”

It seems that the US has already fallen behind the blockchain development curve. “The US generally moves slower, as there are not many bodies in the government who understand crypto, and the policymakers want to be more careful in approaching something they don’t understand,” explains Joyce Yang. “And frankly, I think out of all currencies out there, crypto and non-crypto, Bitcoin is the biggest threat to the global power and influence of the US dollar.”

*This post is credited to Entrepreneur.

MGT Capital, a major Bitcoin mining company, is revising its plans for expansion. Last year, the company decided to expand to Sweden, which offered the prospect of low-cost electricity and inexpensive cooling. The company expected that this would provide an improvement over its original Washington location.

Now, that expansion plan has fallen through. The company has begun shipping out its mining rigs and has cancelled its contracts with Swedish businesses. MGT Capital will instead create a new mining facility in North America.

Mining Costs On the Rise

Bitcoin mining has become increasingly hard to profit from, as the difficulty of finding a new block continually rises. MGT Capital notes that the Bitcoin network recently grown by a factor of six, which has driven up mining difficulty to the same degree. Additionally, the demand for ASIC miners has increased the price of Bitcoin mining hardware.

According to MGT Capital, Bitcoin mining required just twelve Bitmain S9 miners last year, whereas it now requires about 80 of those mining rigs. (Proportionally speaking, that is — the company currently owns about 6800 mining rigs).

Although high mining costs did burden the company, other costs account for the Swedish facility’s failure: an inexperienced hosting vendor and engineering errors. It seems that the costs of maintenance and management nearly outweighed the benefits of Bitcoin mining:

“While the facility was able to produce Bitcoin, running a total of 50 Ph/s for all miners, the costs of rectifying vendor errors has required large outlays of capital with uncertain returns.”

MGT Capital will continue to operate its original facility in Central Washington. The company is also seeking another location in the U.S. or Canada, where it believes that operating costs will be “materially lower and more stable than in Sweden”.

Washington has become a hotspot for crypto mining due to low electricity rates. Meanwhile, a Canadian company has been building an electrical substation specifically devoted to crypto mining.

However, many locales are taking stances against the practice: individual counties in Washington are banning new mining facilities, and Quebec is following suit.

The current mining hotspots will probably remain viable facility locations for some time. But with so many complicating factors, a new mining safe haven may one day rise to prominence.

*This post is credited to UnHashed

Canada has set the pace as the first government to ever approve an exclusive bitcoin mutual fund. This builds upon its reputation as a friendly environment for emerging technologies.

The atmosphere in Canada seems to be freer and more conducive to innovation in this field, based on the numerous developments that the industry has experienced even prior to this time. This is in comparison to its prominent neighbour, the United States, whose Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) upholds strict measures while trying to figure out appropriate regulatory systems for the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.

In an exclusive interview with CCN, Sean Clark, CEO of First Block Capital Inc. — the operator of FBC Bitcoin Trust, the first bitcoin mutual fund to trade in Canada — discussed the underlying factors that make Canada a country that is friendly to new technologies such as cryptocurrency. According to Clark, unrelenting education, political will, and open-mindedness, among other factors make the North American nation an ideal hub for technological innovation.

He told CCN:

“I think in general, the Canadian regulatory bodies understand the potential benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrency, and traditionally Canadian regulators have been open to technological innovation. That is different from what you get in places like the US.”

Canadian Regulators are More Open to Dialogue

Clark noted that his company, in collaboration with other experts, worked directly with the Canadian securities regulators and educated them for a period of six months while also using the discussions as an opportunity to build relationships. Comparing this to what is obtained in the United States, especially with the SEC, he believes that the Canadian regulators appear to be more open to dialogue with regards to technological innovations.

The elected leadership of Canada is also identified by Clark as a key factor that is enabling the openness of government to cryptocurrency and other emerging technologies. He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embracing blockchain technology. Also, the Canadian leadership sees the United States’ increased isolation of these technologies as an opportunity to get skilled labour migrated into Canada to help contribute to the economy.

“This is what we’re seeing trickling down to the regulatory environment, he said, “as they are not stone-walling but rather embracing and wanting to understand the implications of blockchain technology and working with local companies to be able to understand and have the asset class flourish.”

Another important factor that Clark noted is that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is one of very few capital markets globally where you can see blockchain and cryptocurrency companies publicly listed.

[Editor’s Note: Several blockchain ETFs have been publicly listed in the U.S., but regulators asked them not to include the word “blockchain” in their names.]

Investors’ Safety is Paramount

While the the government of Canada offers a relatively conducive environment to blockchain technology and digital currency, Clark noted that they are also ensuring that both institutions and investors are protected against the risks involved. While funds such as First Block Capital are given access into the markets, more critical attention is paid towards them, especially in terms of auditing. So the government and regulatory bodies keep a very close eye on these funds, which facilitates a more cooperative relationship between the companies and the regulators.

Elaborating on the product offered by First Block, Clark described it as a true bitcoin trust, claiming that there is nothing like it currently existing in the industry, even on a global level. The only comparable product as at the time of the interview, he said, was the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC) from Grayscale in the states. However, while GBTC offers its clients fractional ownership of bitcoin pools, First Block’s services are entirely different in the sense that subscribers’ actual fiat values are exclusively used to purchase the equivalent worth of bitcoin for the period of investment and kept in cold storage to be redeemable in the future. It is like an ETF for qualified investors.

Looking Into the Future

Looking into the future, Clark said that he believes that the digital asset market class will grow into a multi-trillion dollar asset class over the next 5 to 10 years. However, he identified the prevailing bear market cycle in the near-term, so he expects bitcoin and altcoin prices to trade sideways or even down for at least the next four months, ahead of another significant bull run in the next one-and-a-half to two years. This would be powered by the entrance of institutions into the space and the likely approval of ETFs.

Clark concluded by elaborating on his company’s commitment towards creating financial products and providing legitimacy and transparency to the cryptocurrency asset class through traditional equities. This he expects to improve the confidence of investors, who will no longer need to go through unregulated exchanges to participate in the cryptocurrency marketplace. According to him, this will eliminate a lot of risks and at the same time give institutional investors access into the crypto space just like they have access to equities.

*This post is credited to CCN