Monday, 9 September 2013

Big Bitcoin Ambition for Melbourne


According to her twitter profile, her ambition is to make Melbourne, Australia, the “bitcoin capital of the world” and in her own way, Dale Dickins is doing her bit to make it so!

An advocate of all things open source and “community driven for empowering people”, she now helps to spread the bitcoin word by hosting Bitcoin for Beginners events in Melbourne.

“The practicality of transferring funds” is what initially appealed to Dale when it came to bitcoin. “My time is valuable,” she says, “and I resent 'wasting' it with non-sensical bureaucratic systems.”
She tells a tale about the difficulties of trying to exchange money for a trip to Peru. She was flying on a Monday morning before the banks opened. “Before I went to Peru, the Bank of Melbourne said I could exchange Australian dollars for US dollars on the Saturday morning before I left the country,” she explains.  “When I got to the bank as arranged, the temporary staff there didn't have access to their foreign bank 'box' and unfortunately there was nothing they could do to help me.”
After spending hours walking between banks, trying to exchange some Australian dollars and finding it impossible without two forms of ID or a bank account, she found an independent exchange business who charged her 10 per cent. “The teller couldn't explain what that 10% was actually for. I'm at a loss as to how banks justify their fees, I mean, most banking is now virtual and all that's required is clicking boxes. Why do they charge so much, why can't I access all of their services 24/7 and why don't international banks recognise the supposedly strong Australian dollar?” she asks.
Fortunately, the place where she stayed in Peru accepted bitcoin. “We went to an Internet cafe where I transferred BTC and he gave me Peruvian Soles in a matter of minutes… So simple,” she says. “With bitcoin I CAN access services 24/7, I know where the money's going and I can trade wherever and whenever with whomever I want.”
The reaction she gets from people when she introduces bitcoin is usually a little confused. She says she gets a lot of “furrowed brows” or a skeptical look of “what?” Likewise, she says some people seem quite disbelieving that there are no banks behind it, others are amazed and excited and quite often she gets a response of, “I’ve heard about it, tell me more.”
It is exactly what she is doing and at the end of August her Bitcoin For Beginners event at Laneway Learning in Melbourne was completely booked out. The attendees varied from those who had heard of it, some who even already had bitcoin, to those who wanted to know more about open source and bitcoin in general. “A few wanted to know about how bitcoin works on the stock exchange, another wanted to know about anonymity,” Dale says. The session allowed people to ask their unique questions and most left with what she hopes was a favourable impression. Of course, not everyone will be convinced straightaway and one attendee in particular had a lot of concerns over the legality of bitcoin. “I suggested he do more of his own research before creating his own self managed superannuation fund with BTC,” Dale says.
So, what about that mission of hers, “to make Melbourne the bitcoin capital of the world”? She believes Melbourne to be a “leading-edge city” and one, which adopts technology relatively fast. Having travelled for many years through Europe, Africa and Asia, she sees the city as one of the most multi-cultural in the world but thinks it is at a disadvantage because of its location and size and believes it is therefore “not considered seriously for the release of new technologies.” 
She says Melbourne could make its mark on the world for adoption of new technology if key multicultural communities in the city adopted bitcoin. “Statistics show that per capita we are hungry for new releases of all things 'shiny', like the idea that Bitcoin is,” she says. “We could be THE place where new technologies are sampled for maximum reach to the rest of the world... we could make a big impact in the spread of all things Bitcoin and I'm up for the challenge!”
Her belief that Melbourne is a prime spot for the adoption of bitcoin on a larger scale is also due to her own experience, working for a personal transformation company. “Melbourne was consistently ranked as one of the top five countries in the world… Many Australians register themselves into personal development courses to learn new technologies as well,” she explains.
She is not aware yet of many Melbournian bricks and mortar business accepting bitcoin in but mentions PolyEster Books on Brunswick St, Fitzroy. That joins companies such as Earth and Sky Organics, which supply organic fruit and vegetables in Melbourne and property buyers’ agent, Paul Osborne, who has also taken bitcoin for his services.

She finds, when talking to businesses, many people are too busy to consider something new or to try to understand the concept of bitcoin. She is now left wondering whether talking to businesses is the right approach, and whether to target people in their homes instead. “I know for myself I feel more comfortable asking 'stupid' questions when I'm amongst friends and family... From there, I've done my own research and learned a whole lot more. It's a phenomenon that can adapt itself to people at any level, and the community is full of enthusiasm for those who want to learn more,” she says.

Whatever her next step, it will be an effort to keep pushing the bitcoin message and in particular, to advance its status in Melbourne. “I want to be able to look back in the history books and see bitcoin as one of the deciding factors for people, communities and countries consciously regaining sovereign status. I want to see now as the time we really grew up, took control of this debt based financial paradigm and turned the titanic around; judging by the amount of controversy bitcoin has generated thus far, it looks like it's already happening.”
By Louise@BitScan

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