Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bitcoin On The Up Down Under

The cavernous lower ground bar of 1 Martin Place may be the setting, but the Sydney bitcoin community is anything but going underground.

The city hosts two bitcoin meetups with cumulatively now over 85 members. On a weekly basis, they gather to discuss, promote and engage in their vision for bitcoin, with topics ranging from libertarian ideals to the trends, threats and business opportunities surrounding the currency.

The meetups only started happening in mid June but with an initial turnout of around 30 people, and that list of names growing week by week, interest in the community, and the currency as a whole, is flourishing.

The Sydney Bitcoin Users Group is a mixed bunch from those interested in learning to the technical experts and miners, whose depth of understanding on the subject could leave the less knowledgeable of us slightly agog. But they are united by their passion for bitcoin and their vision of promoting it as a viable currency in the wider community. They welcome all new faces and encourage everyone to be able to come and share their views and queries.

Last night’s meeting was a prime example with one member giving a valuable insight into the workings of escrow and multi-signature transactions, while another came with the latest thing in bitcoin mining hardware. There were even bitcoin transactions taking place smartphone to smartphone, illustrating just how easy and efficient using the currency can be.

Organiser Jason Williams describes it as a “bit of an action group”, saying, “We want to take people on the journey from ‘what is bitcoin?’ to ‘I’m happy I’m using/accepting it now.’”

The Sydney West Bitcoiners group, meeting in Granville, boasts 37 members and counting. It is organised by Barry Rahme who says, “We talk about how we can improve the awareness and acceptance of bitcoins in our local community.”
The venue for their meeting is proof that the message is trickling through. Brooklyn’s Pizza Bar, takes bitcoins as payment for their food and drinks.

It is not just the meetups, which are gaining ground. Just last week, the Australian chapter of the Bitcoin Foundation held its first ever meeting via conference call and discussed the direction in which the Australian branch would like to go, as well as affiliation with the US.

Their missions are all well-aligned, with the Bitcoin Foundation stating that “Bitcoin’s technology and community” are their focus and how they want to “help Bitcoin deliver” on its potential.

Of the Sydney meetups, Jason also adds, “It means you don’t just have to talk about bitcoins in isolation with your friends or colleagues. There is a group of pretty smart people who you can share your ideas with, which in turn means we’re growing the community.”

By Louise@Bitscan

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