The Bitcoin world is one obsessed by privacy.
Dark wallets, dark markets and private keys but one startup, focused on retail bitcoin adoption is betting that those who really love bitcoin are willing to let the entire world know just how much they are supporting Bitcoin in their local neighborhoods.
They call it the Living Map and LeaderBoard. Retail Merchants are shown accepting Bitcoin in realtime. Everytime one makes a Bitcoin sale, they get bumped to the top of the Leaderboard. It is organized by city, state, nation and region.
“Bitcoin technology is all about being public. The Blockchain which powers the Bitcoin currency network is a public ledger. Anonymous yes but not private. We see the Living map as an extension of the blockchain ethos into the brick and mortar world” says Artur Schaback the CTO of EasyBitz a New York Bitcoin Startup.
EasyBitz was started at the beginning of the year and focused on retail Bitcoin payment processing. They built a Point of Sale for merchants to accept bitcoin and then made videos with each merchant who began using it. The Bitcoin community really appreciated the storytelling and their frist video of lovable young guy named Kay starting a Newsstand won alot of hearts and the community flooded him with donations and support. He even made national television.
“As we worked with merchants we began to see that just allowing them to accept Bitcoin wasn’t enough. We had to take it a step farther and connect the merchants to the customers.” says Ray Youssef the CEO of EasyBitz
This means a way to focus the passionate Bitcoin community to support the merchants that supported Bitcoin. The current maps did not filter for freshness or accuracy and over 90% of their listings were not actively accepting Bitcoin. Hence a living map was created. Merchants are incentived to constantly be accepting Bitcoin as it gives them exposure to the many bitcoin customers who use the EasyBitz Map as a resource. Customers have also found additional incentives to use the map.
“I was pretty amazed by how addictive climbing up the ranks was. We all began battling it out for top place and vying to outspend each other in Bitcoins. I even signed up the diner on my block for points of their earnings. ” says George Georgiadas the current King of New York on the EasyBitz map.
“We don’t take fee’s from merchants so social credit was all we could give away. It worked. New York is a tough town to make anything work but this city has a lot of love for Bitcoin now.”- Ray Yusuf.
The company began just wanting to build the best and simplest merchant point of sale system for retail merchants to accept Bitcoin. They began to see that the biggest problems merchants had were not getting paid, but getting new customers. They had to find a way not just to send more Bitcoin traffic to merchants but also to bring new people to Bitcoin.
“The farther we went the more we saw weaknesses in the Bitcoin ecosystem that had to be fixed. People couldn’t get bitcoin easily enough.” – Artur Schbach
The startup is now working on the CoinBack system which will let customers buy small amounts of bitcoin from their local merchants. The customers gets their coins from a trusted soource easily and the merchants get another revenue stream.
“The only thing merchants like better than no fees and no chargebacks are more customers and more profitable revenue streams. We’re showing them that Bitcoin can give them all of that and then they really get this Bitcoin thing.” – Ray Yusuf.