Tourists traveling to the tropical holiday island of Bali would “only need to bring bitcoin” under a new initiative called ‘Bitislands’ that is aiming to convince all local businesses to accept the digital currency, including money changers.
Bitcoin Indonesia’s co-founder and CEO Oscar Darmawan spoke to CoinDesk about the project, saying:
“We will show to the world that bitcoin can be a better money; as a first step we will convert Bali into Bitcoin Paradise Island.”
Darmawan noted that all prominent Indonesian bitcoin startups have backed the project, and other international companies from around the Southeast Asian region have added their names as well.
On Bitislands’ advisory board are notable local and expat entrepreneurs and investors, including producer of the “Life on Bitcoin” documentary Christian Hsieh, Quantified Assets CEO Ville Oehman, CEO of Indonesia’s biggest internet marketing forum Ricky Andrian, and the organizer of ‘Ubud Breakfast with Bitcoin‘ events Gary Dykstra.
Gaining a foothold
The project’s first goal is to set up an office and Bitcoin Information Center in Bali, and the island’s first offline bitcoin exchange. To show how serious a project Bitislands is, Bitcoin Indonesia’s CTO and other co-founder William Sutanto has relocated to Bali to personally oversee operations.
Bitcoin promises to spare travelers the headaches of having to change currency at every destination, like exchange rate ripoffs, money changer fees, the need for constant mental price conversions and others.
The Bitislands team is inviting bitcoin fans worldwide to support the initiative through donations, spreading the word and even volunteering in Bali itself.
Bali is probably a more perfect location for mass bitcoin adoption than most would assume.
Once known as a haven for surfers and hippies, the island’s image has shifted over time to that of a more mainstream tourist destination, popular especially with travelers and party-goers from Australia and Japan.
Bali’s warm climate and relaxed, low-cost lifestyle appeals to location-independent developers who only need to meet with co-workers and clients in person a few times a year, if ever.
This situation has created a thriving startup ecosystem, generating even more interest in the area. There are already a few entrepreneurial co-working spaces there, including Hubud in the town of Ubud, The Sanur Space in Sanur, and the offices of web design and marketing company Lumonata in main center Kuta.
For more on how bitcoin could reshape international travel, read our most recent analysis.