Bitcoin takes hold in Berlin shops

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Berlin has long been a crucible of alternative culture and left field creativity. It has always thought outside the proverbial box and tried to accentuate community based projects rather than slipping in seamlessly to the structures of a globalised corporate ethos. In recent years it has also developed it’s tech credentials, lending itself to the start up world and emerging as a major European hub of cyber activity. So it perhaps comes as little surprise that while the rest of the world is still getting its head round the esoteric concept of bitcoin currency as an online trading tool, actual shops in Berlin have begun accepting the renegade currency.

The peer to peer electronic payment system has flourished most in the ’bohemian’ (god that is an overused word)district of Kreuzberg.

As the Guardian so splendidly puts it ‘Community leaders believe that Bitcoin's ethos is embedded in a similar political consciousness to that of Kreuzberg. The payments system, which has been viewed with scepticism elsewhere, arguably fits in well with the district's rebellious, critical, leftwing history, not least its residents' willingness to protest against the rising influence of capitalism, in particular the creeping gentrification that is threatening to envelop the district as Berlin undergoes a property boom.’

The transparency and open source feel of the currency, completely free (thus far) from heavy handed hierarchical control has made it the perfect means of exchange for socially conscious traders and indeed customers. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners have been pleasantly surprised by the cosmopolitan profile of Bitcoin users – people from all walks of life have been defying the preconceptions of an uber-nerd currency.

Kreuzberg, has the highest density of businesses accepting the currency in the world and the experience of people engaged in the scheme seems to suggest that it will only extend its influence in the area and beyond as Bitcoin quietly reshapes our relationships with currency and money itself.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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