Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bitcoin Exchange Berlin Is Bringing Digital Currency to Market

On a clear Saturday afternoon in Berlin, I checked out the third Bitcoin Exchange Berlin (BXB), which is the first face-to-face marketplace of its kind in Germany—and likely in Europe.

The monthly exchange shook down at the Platoon Kunsthalle, an art space made from stacked shipping containers. Aaron Koenig, the founder and organizer of BXB, rushed around the venue, as vendors had small blackboards scrawled with their prices. Everyone wore matching black hats emblazoned with the BXB logo and vendor name stickers.

The marketplace focused on cultural fare—art books sold alongside festival tickets and of course the usual traders. It was a local market the likes of which are replicated the world over, but rather than fumbling for cash, vendors and buyers swapped digital currency.

Bitcoin is picking up speed in Germany now that it is recognized as private money. Dubbed a “unit of account” by German lawmakers, the digital currency can now be used for private transactions. But as tax and accounting issues still need to be worked out, bitcoin's biggest value remains in person-to-person transactions.

There are still plenty of opportunities to use it. There are streets where you can shop with virtual cash, like the scene hub, Room 77. At BXB, there was that crowd and more.

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