It's the financial capital of Switzerland, filled with huge banks and powerful companies. It is also considered the world's largest gold trading centre, and is home to over 1,300 multi-millionaires. And now, after a guest appearance by a bicoin ATM, Zurich has been introduced to cryptocurrencies.
The ATM in question is a Lamassu unit that was widely considered to be Europe's first bitcoin ATM when it was installed at a market hall in the Slovakian Capital, Bratislava. After reading about the unit, two Zurich-based bitcoin enthusiasts, Dorian Credé and Christian Mäder, took the 10-hour trip to see the machine in action.
They were both impressed. So much so, that Credé called Lamassu that very evening to place an order for his own unit.
But unwilling to wait for the ATM to be delivered in mid-march, Credé set out to convince Marian Jančuška, who owns the Bratislava unit, to let them take it to Zurich for a guest appearance. To his surprise Jančuška immediately agreed, and one week later Credé and Mäder went back to pick up the unit and install it in a busy market hall in the centre of the city.
The trial ended on Wednesday, and Credé said it was a "huge success, beyond [...] expectations". Over the four days that the machine was operational, 90 transactions were made and a total of 14.8 bitcoins were purchased.
This is despite the machine only being able to handle euros, not Swiss Francs - and only being able to display Slovakian as a language. Also, being a Lamassu unit, it only converts fiat currency to bitcoin, not the other way around.
Credé and Mäder were on hand with the ATM at all times to help people buy bitcoin, and answer any questions about the cryptocurrency. It was hard work, but worth it, said Credé:
"People came from all parts of Switzerland just to see the ATM. It was pretty cool. We had one person from MasterCard and one from a private bank who came all the way from Geneva just to buy some bitcoin, Then they asked a few questions before they drove all the way back."
Credé said that he invested about 2,000 CHF (approximately $2,219) of his own money to bring the machine over. The 3% service charge went to the ATM's owner Jančuška, so in the end he has no financial gain to show for it. But this was never the plan.
"It was more a spontaneous reaction. I love the idea of being the first to show it in Switzerland. I can say mission accomplished," he said.
Credé's fascination with bitcoin goes back several years, stemming from his other project: Wikirating which provides free and collaborative credit ratings of companies and countries.
After having the idea to pay contributors in bitcoin, he became more and more interested in the cryptocurrency. Credé eventually started the World Bitcoin Association with Mäder - who is one of Switzerland's most prominent bitcoin bloggers. The aim of the Association is to unite non-profit bitcoin organisations around the world.
One person involved the project to bring the ATM to Switzerland had a step learning curve. Daniel Bollhalder, who manages the market hall where the ATM was housed, admits he did not know much about bitcoin and that he is quite "old-school" when it comes to these things.
However, after seeing the machine in action he was more than happy to offer a permanent space for Credé's own ATM when it is delivered.
"We are crazy people, so we say yes to crazy projects. It is that simple," he said.
Zurich Image via Shutterstock