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Ripple Survey Suggests Latam Merchants Will Adopt Crypto Payments Massively After Three Years

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Btcpay Introduces New Coinjoin Plugin for Enhanced Bitcoin Privacy for Merchants

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Bitcoin adoption of Guatemalan merchants grows one BTC tattoo at a time

The Central American country of Guatemala is getting inked on the path to greater Bitcoin merchant adoption.

Bitcoin (BTC) use in Guatemala is on the up. The Latin American country that borders El Salvador boasts Guatemalan-grown Bitcoin companies such as Ibex and Osmo, several Bitcoin Beach-inspired projects including Bitcoin Lake, and now, free BTC tattoos.

A Bitcoin merchant adoption competition hosted by Osmo Wallet in 2022, a Guatemala-based Bitcoin company, led to the free ink promotion. Cointelegraph spoke to Piero Coen, the co-founder of Osmo Wallet, and Steven Marroquin, the owner of Soul’s Anchor, a tattoo parlor in Guatemala City.

Free tattoo ideas from Soul's Anchor. Source: Coen 

Coen explained how it that the mission is to get more people to use Bitcoin:

“So we ran a competition amongst merchants to see who would process the most volume in Bitcoin sales in 2022. Turns out Soul's Anchor Tattoo Shop in Guatemala City, who started accepting Bitcoin payments using Osmobusiness back in October, won the competition.”

Merchant adoption is nothing new in Guatemala. So they thought about how to make things more exciting. They decided that offering free Bitcoin tattoos to customers might be a Bitcoin-friendly marketing tactic. “It was a huge hit. All the slots filled up in hours!” He explained.

The free Bitcoin tattoos get the thumbs up from Cointelegraph's Bman. Source: Coen

Guatemalan Bitcoin believers and Bitcoin tourists streamed into the store to ink their favorite Bitcoin meme, quote or art onto their skin. Steven Marroquin, Souls Anchor owner, explained, “It’s been around seven months since we officially accepted Bitcoin and have two to three customers per month.” It's a small amount, but payments are on the rise, he reports:

“The first months we had only one customer, and even though it’s still a few percentages of our income, probably 1%, we are happy have started accepting it.”

Coen explains that “It’s still super early” for Bitcoin adoption in Guatemala, and “Most business owners are still unsure about accepting and holding onto Bitcoin because of the volatility.”

By allowing instant Bitcoin to fiat currency conversion at the payment merchant terminal, merchants can sidestep the volatility. Instant BTC to fiat conversion is a growing trend in the Bitcoin payments space, as companies such as Strike–headed up by Jack Mallers–and CoinCorner offer similar solutions. Bitcoin as a means of exchange is burgeoning and Coen is optimistic about its future:

“Bitcoin adoption in Guatemala City is on the rise, every day we see more and more people are getting into it, learning about it, and stacking up on Sats."

Rikki, one-half of the Bitcoin Explorers couple who spent 45 days living off Bitcoin only in El Salvador, recently traveled around Guatemala, paying his way in Bitcoin. Rikki told Cointelegraph the level of “adoption of Bitcoin in Guatemala has really surprised us,” referring to himself and his partner Laura.

“Locals are curious, they want to learn about Bitcoin and see it as an important alternative to credit cards whose fees are very high in the country.”

Indeed, by accepting Bitcoin, business can save over 50% on transaction costs when compared to accepting credit card payments, “So the incentives are there,” Coen explained.

Related: As Bitcoin debuts in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala study CBDCs

Rikki added that “orange-pilling” efforts by Guatemalan-based companies, such as Ibex and Osmo, “are pushing to raise awareness of the technology.” The couple also visited the Bitcoin Lake, a Bitcoin-beach-style community project, where a Guatemalan mayor is mining Bitcoin in his office, before getting inked themselves as part of the promotion.

“We found the tattoo idea very cute. It is a company that wants to reward its shopkeeper who has received the most Bitcoin transactions by promoting its business.”

Bitcoin and crypto tattoos are increasingly common, as crypto advocates choose to brand themselves with their coin of choice. However, crypto tattoos can sometimes go very, very wrong.

Bitcoin tattoos belonging to Rikki (top) and Laura (bottom). Source: Rikki 

Take Mike Novogratz, the Galaxy Digital founder, as an example. His Terra (LUNA) tattoo is a constant reminder that investing requires humility. The LUNA token crashed by over 99% in price in 2021. Fortunately, the Bitcoin tattoos are safe, for now, thanks to a January price pump. 

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McDonald’s, pizza and coffee paid in Bitcoin: The Plan B for crypto payments

Crypto payments are taking off in a big way in Lugano, Switzerland with 60 merchants and counting.

Over the weekend, thousands of Bitcoiners and crypto enthusiasts descended on the small, sleepy Swiss town of Lugano. More specifically, they piled onto a McDonald’s restaurant. 

Perched on Lake Lugano, Mcdonald's Lugano received countless visits from Bitcoiners keen to trade Satoshis (the smallest denomination of a Bitcoin) for Big Macs, McFlurrys and coffee.

But why were European crypto enthusiasts excited to pay in Bitcoin (BTC) at one of the world’s most recognizable brands? Well, firstly to demonstrate the Lightning Network, a Layer-2 technology built atop Bitcoin. But also to live up to Satoshi Nakamoto’s promise that Bitcoin is, in fact, an electronic cash system.

The entire McDonald’s team had been educated and onboarded onto the Bitcoin network just days before the major European Bitcoin and blockchain conference, the Plan B Forum, Tether chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino told Cointelegraph.

The Italian ex-pat gave Cointelegraph an overview of Bitcoin and crypto adoption in Lugano, joking that the hands-on process of educating merchants on how to accept crypto can be time-consuming: “At McDonald's, we spend like one week because they have a ton of people working there.”

Ardoino’s company, Tether, orchestrated a broad plan for the economic capital of Italian-speaking Switzerland to adopt Bitcoin and crypto. What commenced as a plan for citizens to pay their taxes in crypto has morphed into a summer school called Plan B, a conference named the Plan B Forum and crypto merchant adoption — spearheaded by McDonald’s.

Cointelegraph investigated Bitcoin and crypto merchant adoption to better understand how countries, regions — or in this case — cities can adopt crypto in a meaningful way. Is it possible, for example, to live on crypto in Lugano?

Over 60 merchants accept crypto in Lugano. Source: PlanB

Ardoino explained that over the past few months, the Plan B team has onboarded over 60 merchants to accept crypto, but growth in merchants and crypto payments is really starting to ramp up:

“Basically when we had 30 merchants before reaching 600 hundred [crypto] transactions. And in the last five days ago we had 600 transactions.”

The team at Plan B intends to hit 1,000 merchants accepting crypto by Q2 2022. “We have a business team that will run around the city,” Ardoino explained. The team onboards more and more merchants and ensures that Lugano becomes the best place to spend crypto in Europe.

Unlike El Salvador’s top-down approach to Bitcoin, in which the president announced Bitcoin as legal tender and there was reportedly little hands-on educational assistance for people on the ground, Plan B has the luxury of a team of onboarding personnel.

Indeed, Tether and Plan B have the resources to guide merchants through the crypto onboarding process. Plus, they are able to receive feedback from merchants and update their systems accordingly, Ardoino shared:

“But also, the problem is the maintenance. We install [the Point of Sale solutions] and then we have people that periodically check in and say, okay, you have problems, get feedback and so on because you know, otherwise you will never work.”

True to form, on the first day of the Plan B conference, the onsite pizzeria cheffed by Mauro, had issues with the payment terminal. The Plan B team soon rectified the situation. At Cointelegraph’s hotel, upon arrival, the receptionist said they would accept crypto payments from the following day. Cointelegraph endured paying in fiat for an entire day, before as promised, the hotel’s PoS solution was put to use.

Plan B payment terminal. Source: PlanB

All Plan B merchants accept payments over the colorful payment terminal in LVGA token, Bitcoin Lightning, and Tether (USDT). LVGA is a stablecoin proxy of swiss francs and is available to local residents.

Related: Pro-crypto city of Lugano and El Salvador sign economic agreement based on adoption

The merchant partnership is between GoCrypto, a crypto payments company, and Tether. Curiously, Ardoino told Cointelegraph that so far, not a single merchant has rejected the opportunity to accept crypto. The experience is a stark contrast to crypto merchant adoption in the United Kingdom, for example. Ardoino explained:

“If your neighbor has it and he's starting to get more people walking around any paying, you know, people can get over there their biases. When it comes to money; people are more prone to come over their biases.”

Cointelegraph succeeded in living off crypto during their stay in the Swiss city, barring one exception. Not a single pharmacy accepts crypto (yet), so if you are planning on a visit to Lugano, don’t forget your toothbrush.

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Chinese Digital Currency Transactions Exceed 100 Billion Yuan, Central Bank Says

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Bitcoin on the streets: the trick to onboarding UK merchants into BTC

Tips, tricks and tribulations from the grassroots mission of two Bitcoiners who spent a day trying to “orange pill” merchants in a U.K. town.

“Do you accept Bitcoin? Would you Like to?” These questions echoed around the streets of Reading, near London, United Kingdom, over a hard day’s graft for two British Bitcoin (BTC) advocates. 

James Dewar, founding partner of Bridge2Bitcoin, and MSW, a business developer for CoinCorner, took to the streets of Reading in a marathon mission of merchant adoption. In just six hours, they spoke to 63 shops, cafés and restaurants, hoping to persuade them to accept BTC.

Armed with flyers, sales experience and oodles of enthusiasm for the world’s largest cryptocurrency, the Bitcoiners detailed the data and their experiences interacting with the general public. Of the 63 merchants they spoke to, around 50% were a straight rejection, and 10 of the 30 were “worth a follow-up,” Dewar told Cointelegraph. Three businesses were onboarded on the spot or quickly afterward. Dewar continues:

“It’s a 3% hit rate within two weeks, from my point of view from a standing start is pretty good if you think about the adoption curve.”

Indeed, while 3 out of 63 merchants may seem trivial, it’s representative of where the world is in terms of Bitcoin adoption.

Bitcoin adoption worldwide is still around 3%

Dewar explains that Bitcoin awareness is currently low as we sit at the lower end of the Bitcoin adoption threshold. However–it’s still worth giving it a shot and asking your local merchant if they take Bitcoin. Dewar jokes that even if he were to hand out £10 notes on the street, people might still be reluctant to accept the offer or reject them–as it’s like “Sales in general,” he explains.

“We think it's an obvious no-brainer, right? There is literally no downside to doing it. But getting that message across; you've got to be fairly thick-skinned to understand that people don't [get it] –it's like handing out tenners on the street!”

MSW, who accompanied Dewar explains that accepting Bitcoin makes commercial sense for many merchants. “One of the benefits for many is that you can just accept pounds. It’s like a cheaper version of Sump with Bonus marketing.” SumUp is a point-of-sale solution popular in bars and restaurants across the country.

But why not onboard businesses onto other cryptocurrencies? MSW, who accompanied Dewar on his journey, explains that “the Lightning Network is the best way to send value, for low fees and instantly. No other network comes close.” Indeed, the Lightning Network outperforms Ethereum (ETH) and other cryptocurrencies as a payments network. 

MSW has since embarked on Bitcoin merchant adoption walks in Edinburgh and Oxford to varying degrees of success. Coach Carbon, a Bitcoin football coach partnered with MSW in Oxford a few weeks later, while in Edinburgh, Jordan Walker, CEO of the U.K. Bitcoin collective, joined MSW. Walker and MSW spent a day onboarding merchants ahead of the United Kingdom’s first Bitcoin-only conference

Source: Bitcoin Collective

But isn’t Bitcoin for HODLing–not spending–as it’s gold 2.0? Dewar and MSW would agree with the narrative that Bitcoin is a store of value, but they are proponents of spending Satoshis. Plus, in the United Kingdom, there are no capital gains on Bitcoin that are spent and then replaced within 30 days due to “Bed and Breakfasting” laws. MSW underlines that spending Bitcoin in shops is educational, too:

“I am bullish about merchant adoption as a way of demystifying Bitcoin and showing that it has a use. Bitcoin is a way of buying a coffee, or an ice cream or going to your favorite cat café and stroking some cats.”

MSW and James both shared that while it’s a tough day out and that some people still have a deep-rooted hatred for Bitcoin, the process can be “very rewarding.” What’s stopping you from asking your local merchant, anon?

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Bitpay Adds Lightning Network, Youth Fashion Brand Pacsun to Accept Payments via Lightning

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