Australian town becomes country’s first ‘digital currency town’

When people dream of the perfect vacation, they often think of white sandy beaches, endless sunshine and gentle waves crashing on the shore (spoiler alert: they’re not wrong). Now, a sleepy town in Australia is looking to make a splash with cryptocurrency enthusiasts and has launched an initiative to have digital currency accepted all over town.

Agnes Water, on the eastern shores of Queensland, is regularly home to only about 2,000 people. It is hoping to drum up tourism through its endeavor, and so far has gained support of more than 30 local businesses. Tour operators, restaurants, hotels and even the town’s local watering hole all now accept payments using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum or NEM.

When arriving to the town, visitors are greeted by a billboard that reads, “Welcome to Agnes Water-1770, Australia’s First Digital Currency Town.” The plan is the brainchild of Gordon Christian, a local real estate agent. When working with a client who was interested in paying with cryptocurrency, he began exploring how to process the payment, lighting a fire under the initiative. He then saw the spread of cryptocurrency acceptance by retailers at Brisbane International Airport, which fueled the flames even higher.

Christian began talking to local merchants and found them very amenable to the idea. In an interview with ABC News, he said, “We started from the ground up, shared it with a couple of businesses and they were straight on board … I guess they were international travelers themselves and had heard of these types of payments. Initially we had a good 10 businesses that just said, ‘Fine — let’s go for it.’”

The merchants are able to accept payments through a point-of-sale device created by Queensland’s TravelbyBit cryptocurrency startup. According to the company’s CEO, Caleb Yeoh, “We’ve got merchants all over Australia but they’re very sporadic. Agnes Water and] the Town of 1770 has the highest concentration.”

Yeoh added, “The town has made a very strategic move in trying to appeal to a niche market to take perhaps some of those tourists … to come out to their little part of the woods. 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. Travelling with one global currency like Bitcoin … makes sense.”

He’s certainly not wrong.

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