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Dutch Supermarket Joins Arnhem's Growing Bitcoin Economy

(@AaronvanW) | Published on November 28, 2014 at 18:40 BST

Spar Arnhem Centraal

Adding to the impressive roster of 40 merchants in the Dutch city of Arnhem that already accept bitcoin, a city centre supermarket has now also made the decision to accept payments in the digital currency.

With the move, the Spar Arnhem Centraal has become the first franchised supermarket in the Netherlands to accept bitcoin.

The owners say that they started processing cryptocurrency payments yesterday via a point-of-sale system provided by Dutch firm BitKassa.

Notably, the integration came about after encouragement from the organisers of the Arnhem Bitcoincity project, which kicked off in May with a scheme to encourage local merchants to make bitcoin payments available across the city.

"The addition of Spar Arnhem Centraal to Arnhem Bitcoincity means a huge growth in the number of products and services that can be paid for with bitcoin in Arnhem," project organiser Patrick van der Meijde told Coindesk, adding:

"The ultimate goal of the organisers behind the project, the ability to pay all of our everyday expenses in bitcoin, has now taken another big leap forward."

Attracting new customers

Holder of the local Spar franchise Luke van Gelder is not a bitcoin user himself, but he was aware of the Arnhem Bitcoincity project. After speaking with the project organisers several times, Van Gelder decided to take the leap.

He said:

"It seems like an interesting project, and fun to support. I don't personally expect to gain a huge amount of extra revenue by accepting bitcoin, but perhaps we'll attract a couple of new customers this way. Up till now we've processed 10 payments in bitcoin, which actually doesn't seem too bad for the first two days."

Although not the first grocery store in the Netherlands to accept bitcoin – the Goudse Hoek supermarket in the Hague beat them to that title by a couple of months – Spar Arnhem Centraal is the first supermarket that's part of a well-known franchise to do so.

This does not, however, indicate a bitcoin-friendly policy by Netherlands-based multinational retail chain Spar, according to a company spokesperson.

"The acceptance of bitcoin by Spar Arnhem Centraal is a local initiative by the Arnhem Bitcoincity team and this specific franchise holder," she said, explaining:

"On a national level, Spar was not involved at all, although we do welcome individual experiments like these. If accepting bitcoin turns out to be a big success for Spar Arnhem Centraal, there is of course always a chance that the concept might be exported to different franchises, but this is not our intention at this point in time."

Project growth

Arnhem Bitcoincity was launched exactly half a year ago. The project, which aims to establish Arnhem as the bitcoin capital of the world, started out with 15 bitcoin-accepting merchants in May, mostly consisting of bars and restaurants (see a gallery of the opening event here).

Six months later, the project has grown to around 40 participants, and added a more diverse mix of merchants that includes clothing stores, a bicycle shop, a hotel, a bakery, a florist and more.

To celebrate its success, the team behind Arnhem Bitcoincity is organising a special event this evening, Arnhem Bitcoin Metropolis, where Dutch bitcoiners can meet up over dinner and drinks – payable in bitcoin, of course.

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