The small Australian beachside town of Agnes Water in Northern Queensland has gone crypto crazy with 30 local businesses accepting Bitcoin, claiming to be the country’s first “digital currency-friendly” town, reports ABC News Australia.
The town is launching its campaign this week with a new billboard announcing their claim which proudly sports the Bitcoin icon. Crypto groups and tourists from Japan have been invited to the launch in the town of 1800 inhabitants. The project plans to attract international tourists to pay for goods in Bitcoin, which can immediately be converted into Australian dollars.
Local real estate agent Gordon Christian said he won local businesses’ support to bring the technology to the town to boost its main industry, tourism, and also to attract an “alternative” type of traveler.
Bitcoin in Australia currently stands 18th on the Bitcoin Volume by Currency index and cryptocurrencies are not yet regarded as legal tender, so the town has taken to the challenge of elevating the profile of digital currency use. Such enterprises are growing in the country from state to state as retailers, restaurant’s and café’s come onboard in ever-increasing numbers.
TravelbyBit CEO Caleb Yeoh said it was early days for the currency, and that there was strong support for it as a “social movement”. The company currently supports many new crypto enterprises in the hospitality industry including the new crypto project with Queensland’s International Airport retailers, which is off to a slow start with just a handful of transactions in the airport each day so far, worth between $5 and $55.
“If you travel around the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers,” he said, adding “Travelling with one global currency like Bitcoin … makes sense.”
Gordon Christian said that he was motivated towards the town’s new project by the recent announcement that Brisbane airport had taken the title of “a crypto friendly airport,” and also being asked by a customer if he accepted Bitcoin. The estate agent also added that another advantage was that blockchain technology could protect merchants from the costs of credit card fraud.
He pointed out that the project was slow to start, but soon gained momentum:
“Initially we had a good 10 businesses that just said, ‘Fine — let’s go for it…then the idea spread across the town’s tourism industry with the “digital traveler” in mind.”
Thirty-one businesses in the town have now signed up, from resorts and backpackers to tour companies, restaurants, the local pub and a day spa.
Christian is clearly positive with the outcome, suggesting “It’s a whole new world”
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