Apr 032015

Atlanta Bitcoin Consumer Fair

Atlanta will host its first Bitcoin Consumer Fair from April 17th to April 18th 2015. The focus is on merchant adoption and consumer usage, which is still lagging what people predicted a year ago. The goal of the Atlanta Bitcoin Consumer fair is mostly to inform the merchants how easy it is to accept Bitcoin payments, and that there is a ready consumer base that will spend at these merchants.

The event isn’t just about consumer/merchant adoption of Bitcoin though. There are talks scheduled, in two tracks, so it will also resemble some of the other Bitcoin conferences. Check out the event here, and if you’re in or around Atlanta, do make sure you’re able to attend!

We got to catch up with Jason Cronk, who has been a regular Bitcoin conference attendee in the past, and is involved in several startups as well, related to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space.

What kinds of Meetups are possible for people in Atlanta to meet up with fellow Bitcoiners?
There are two Meetup groups in Atlanta. The larger one is more general and has over 300 members, which is one of the more impressive meetup groups I’ve seen around the world. Scott Discroll who will be speaking at the Bitcoin Consumer Fair runs that one. I run the other group, which is more focused on business and technology, this has about 50 members. There actually used to be a smaller group of miners and tech geeks that met, but they disbanded a few months ago coinciding with the drop in mining activity.

What’s the goal of the Bitcoin Consumer Fair? What kind of response have you seen so far?
The goal of the fair is to drive consumer adoption and let people actually see Bitcoin transactions in practice in a retail setting. I go to a lot of Bitcoin events and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to purchase things with Bitcoin. We want to change that. Almost everyone in the space agrees that this is sorely needed. Too much focus has been on merchant adoption, we’ve got to show the other side of the equation now.

What’s the state of Bitcoin in Atlanta in general, considering BitPay is from Atlanta? Do you see lots of local merchants accepting Bitcoin in your everyday experience?
While there is quite of lot of interest in Bitcoin, with BitPay, GeorgiaTech and Atlanta being a financial technology hub, merchant adoption is fairly low. We haven’t seen the sorts of small communities like there are in Germany and San Francisco. Consumer adoption is even less. I went to pay at a Barbershop that takes Bitcoin and I’m guessing I was the first customer because they were quite perplexed how to handle it. This is the reason we’re putting on the Fair to try and drive adoption locally.

What’s been your personal experience with Bitcoin so far?
I’ve been in Bitcoin for a few years now. I run a blog on the legal issues of Bitcoin and I’m an avid user but I want to see it grow. People have be shown the benefit. It will grow, but it’s going to take time as non-techies learn about it and get a chance to use it.

What do you think is needed for more mainstream Bitcoin adoption? Do you see the future more in the payment side of Bitcoin or more in the Bitcoin 2.0/smart contracts side?
I’m bullish on Bitcoin as a payment and value transfer mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, Bitcoin 2.0 is great stuff but people have to learn to fly propeller planes before we start building rocket ships. Bitcoin converts need to keep evangelizing it. They need to show the benefits and focus on the core use cases. It’s a much more difficult sell in the United States because we have a much more stable currency and useful banking system, but there are still people that could benefit from it, name the 17% underbank and unbanked people in the US, those who want to
remit money overseas or those who want to travel or buy goods and services from overseas.

You’ve attended quite a few Bitcoin events. Any favorites? What do you normally like to see in a Bitcoin conference?
I like to be able to use my Bitcoin, buying things. I like to see people excited by the future. I like the big conferences as well as the small conferences. I don’t really have a favorite. I’ve tried to combine all the elements from each of the conferences I’ve attended into the Bitcoin Consumer Fair.

What startups in the space currently excite you? Do you find any other cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin to be promising?
I like how BitPay and BitWage are targeting the consumer side by allowing people to get paid in Bitcoin. I think there needs to be more focus on that. How do people get money? They get paid. One area that needs a lot of development is using Bitcoin to pay contractors, especially those overseas. I’ve used fiverr.com which takes Bitcoin, but the bigger sites don’t yet. Bitcoin is well suited to contractor payments because you can have escrow agents who can determine where the funds go without actually having access to the funds using multi-signature wallets.

Photo Credit: Mike Boening Photography