Opinion: Bitcoin crumbles

POSTED: 07/29/14 7:13 PM

We haven’t heard much anymore about Ryan Higgins’s initiative to promote the digital currency Bitcoin in St. Maarten. In April, he organized several meetings in Simpson Bay that attracted a select group of people who seemed mostly fed up with the current banking system. Turning St. Maarten into a bitcoin-island would be a boon for the tourism industry Higgins – who uses the alias Max Wright in the bitcoin-world – claimed. St. Maarten did not bite, and all has gone quiet around this initiative.

How is the virtual currency faring elsewhere in the world? The Netherlands was one of those places on earth were bitcoin was expected to flourish – but didn’t. Jeroen Trommelen investigated the situation for the Volkskrant. He found that there are just three bitcoin terminals in the whole country.

One is located in a Thai eatery in Amsterdam. Coincidentally, Higgins/Wright gave his presentation in Simpson Bay also in a Thai eatery – Panlaan. The second terminal is in Delft and the third one is literally in the middle of nowhere – at the train station in Lelystad.

That third terminal is an initiative from the American-Armenian entrepreneur Gevrog Bazikjan. He claims that the machine recorded ten transactions during the first two weeks. One purchase was for 2.1 bitcoin at a value of €1,000 – around $1,350.

The stories about this currency of the future have been around for years but so far all initiatives in the Netherlands have flopped.

A boulevard in The Hague was dubbed the Bitcoin Boulevard, and all entrepreneurs on this location would participate. The turnover got stuck below €5,000, and the project quietly died. A similar fate hit Arnhem that became Bitcoin Town in May with the participation of fifteen entrepreneurs.

Pubs and restaurants in Arnhem register a couple of transactions per day – not the booming success the initiators had in mind.

Against this background, and with the obvious lack of enthusiasm in St. Maarten for the virtual currency and its vulnerability to enormous swings in value, it is highly unlikely that the Friendly Island will ever become the Bitcoin Island Higgins/Wright had in mind.

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