Spurred by the global media publicity generated by Bitcoin Center NYC earlier this year, a network of physical bitcoin-focused co-working and public outreach spaces has sprouted in major cities around the globe, aiming to increase awareness of bitcoin and provide support to local ecosystems.
One of the more notable installations is La Maison du Bitcoin (‘The House of Bitcoin’), a 220-square-metre space in Paris, France, that became the first of its kind in Europe upon its launch on 13th May.
Since then, co-founder Eric Larchevêque told CoinDesk that interest in the centre has been “tremendous”, with dozens of people visiting the centre every day to discuss bitcoin. Most encouraging to Larchevêque is that many of these individuals are coming to the centre to learn about the digital currency for the first time.
“Aside [from] meetups and hackathons, day-to-day visitors are totally new to cryptocurrencies and are very curious to know more. That was a great surprise for us.”
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La Maison du Bitcoin now hosts a free ‘Bitcoin 101’ seminar every month, with roughly 50 attendees present for its most recent meeting, Larchevêque said. More importantly, he added, is that these attendees are demonstrating a high level of engagement, denoted by the lengthy Q&A session that took place after the event.
Challenges to adoption
Larchevêque also discussed some of the challenges the centre is facing in France, noting that obstacles to consumer adoption there are similar to those the industry is facing elsewhere around the globe.
He said this uphill fight will also affect the centre’s ability to serve new-to-bitcoin consumers, explaining:
“The problem we see is that the technology is too complex as it is, and there is a strong need to package everything into dead simple interfaces anyone can use.”
Even so, Larchevêque is optimistic, given that the country’s government that has recently taken steps to increase transparency in its nascent bitcoin industry.
Calling the developments “quite positive”, Larchevêque noted that the decision to exempt bitcoin sales from value-added tax and to require exchanges to embrace know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) best practices are both in accordance with industry belief.
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