While bitcoin is a purely digital currency, there has been a growing movement by the community to provide interested newcomers with a real-world introduction to its merits.
Bitcoin Center NYC and La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, for example, serve as physical destinations where novices can ask questions while ardent enthusiasts network, take classes or otherwise consider the larger implications of the innovation.
Opened 28th May in Prague, The Client Center WBTCB.CZ joins this list with the aim of fostering bitcoin awareness and enthusiasm in the Czech Republic's largest city.
Located in Prague's Smíchov district – a popular shopping destination – the project is one of the first big moves from Czech bitcoin startup world BTC business (wBTCb), which aims to make its mark providing local cryptocurrency trading services.
The design process
Martin Stránský, CEO of wBTCb, explained that the company's Client Center has been in production for half a year – a necessary amount of time given the work needed to prepare and design the center itself:
"The choice of materials, design of individual components – that all took some time. Moreover, the whole historical building went through complete reconstruction."
Stránský indicates great care was taken to ensure that the Client Center would provide an attractive backdrop to its client services, and that it could be easily replicated.
If successful, wBTCb hopes to explore franchise opportunities with global members of the bitcoin community looking to bring similar projects to their home country.
A look inside
In total, wBTCb's Client Center provides 125 square meters of bitcoin-centric space, divided over two floors.
The first floor provides a contact zone for clients, as well as a bi-directional Robocoin bitcoin ATM that allows for a maximum withdrawal of 25,000 Kč, or roughly $1,200.
Stránský went on to further explain the potential of this space, saying:
"The lower floor is now like an open office for my team, which can be easily converted into a space where events and lectures will be organized with topics such as virtual currencies, business plans in this area, startups and more."
If the first floor is more business-focused, the second floor will emphasize bitcoin's more creative side, said Stránský, indicating that the floor will house an art gallery where wBTCb will organize exhibitions for artists who accept payments in bitcoin for their work.
wBTCb is launching with just a few services, though the company says it already has plans to expand the center. For example, while general bitcoin ATM users are limited to a 25,000 Kč limit, higher amounts are available to clients who register formally with the center.
Stránský explained that verification is necessary for transactions over this amount, as it must report this activity to comply with Czech law. However, he hinted that this could be the first step in identifying and providing more advanced trading services to local bitcoin users, saying:
"We want to allow clients trading with virtual currencies, and bring additional services which we will inform about soon. The connection of clients across the world is the vision."
Compared to other European nations, the Czech Republic has been relatively quiet on matters relating to alternative digital currencies. To date, the Czech Republic has issued only guidance on bitcoin related to anti-money laundering (AML) compliance, according to BitLegal and the US Law Library of Congress.
However, Stránský is optimistic that his company's work will, in part, generate more enthusiasm for the technology in the country:
"We are at the beginning, but there is certain level of awareness about bitcoins in the Czech Republic. [...] Our aim is to open the world of virtual currencies to the group of people that now have a lack of information."
wBTCb indicated a full virtual tour will be available on its website soon.
Images via wBTCb