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Picturesque English Farm Takes Bitcoin for Wedding Parties

(@joonian) | Published on January 17, 2014 at 09:50 BST

A farm in the bucolic English countryside will now accept bitcoin payments from wedding parties seeking to hire the venue for their special day.

The farm, a three-acre property called the Loudwater Estate Event Centre in Hertfordshire, South East England, charges charges £2,000 (or 2.359 BTC – according to the current CoinDesk BPI) for an all-day venue rental.

The estate’s owner, John Michell, said he started accepting bitcoin payments a week ago and is yet to make his first sale. However, he is confident the right couple will be enamoured by the 17th-century barn and idyllic views of the River Chess, which winds through the property. He said:

“I think it might be somebody from abroad, perhaps China, who thinks: Wow, this is in England; we can go and pay in bitcoin, turn up, and have a wedding there!”

Boosting bitcoin consumption

Michell is boosting his chances of finding the right matrimonially-inclined bitcoiners because he runs a number of cryptocurrency-related activities at his farm. Michell runs regular seminars around bitcoin to introduce the digital currency to would-be bitcoin investors.

Michell charges 0.051 BTC for a seat at the workshop (or a premium in fiat for £25) where he gives an overview of the digital currency to attendees. His next event is on 25th January and he expects a group of several dozen attendees.

In addition, Michell said he is working to set up a bitcoin exchange aimed at UK residents. He has incorporated a company in Germany that will have an account with Munich-based Fidor Bank.

The bank is well known for its positive approach to bitcoin. It already works with digital currency exchange Kraken and German bitcoin marketplace bitcoin.de. Michell said:

“It’s so difficult in England to buy bitcoin. We want to offer people in the UK the chance to buy bitcoin via the German system.”

Michell noted that potential customers at his exchange would still have to deposit funds into a German bank account. He said he would not have the ability to take deposits with a UK account, as banks have been less open to the prospect of working with bitcoin exchanges.

When opportunity knocks

Michell has a background in financial technology. Previously, he was a developer of financial enterprise software for banks: working at Bank of America in London and the FIAT Bank in Germany.

[Bitcoin] is amazing. It's going to take over the world.

Mitchell said he bought his first bitcoin for £15. He discovered cryptocurrencies when he found a server he had been running had been hacked. The attacker, who he said was based in Russia, had taken over part of the server for litecoin mining.

“I cleaned it up, asking myself, ‘What are these things?’ Then I spent months studying bitcoin and all of a sudden, a light went on, and I thought: ‘[Bitcoin] is amazing. It’s going to take over the world.’”

The technology developer-turned-wedding venue entrepreneur said he experienced a similar epiphany in 1995, when he evangelised about the Internet at a talk given to the Institute of Directors in London. At the time, Michell was director of a company called Millenium Facilities in Cambridge, where he charged small firms £100 to help them get connected to the Internet.

One of his clients was sufficiently impressed by the nascent global network to ask Michell to give a talk about it. He recalled:

“This was just after Mosaic had come out, before Netscape, even. I said the biggest application on the Internet is going to be finance. And of course, it’s only now that bitcoin is the Internet of money, and it’s going to be massive.”

Michell became the owner of Loudwater Estate after hearing that it was available from his daughter, who worked there. His daughter currently manages the daily operations at the estate. Last year, the venue hosted 90 events, ranging from weddings to meetings and other corporate occasions.

Wedding image via Shutterstock

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