How Bitislands Plans to Turn All of Bali into 'Bitcoin Paradise'

The entire tropical resort island of Bali will become a haven for bitcoin travelers and startups, say project organizers.

May 28, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 10:49 a.m. UTC

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.

While there are several moves to create 'Bitcoin Boulevards' around the world in certain neighborhoods, this is the first attempt to convert an entire island.

The social experiment is sponsored by (also known as Bitcoin Indonesia), Indonesia's largest exchange and bitcoin lobby group.

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."

Community support

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.

To date, this list of companies includes Artabit, CoinPip, Quantified, Coin of Sale, Tukarcash and Bitwyre.

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.

Attracting entrepreneurs

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.

More recently, though, it has begun to attract digital nomads and other entrepreneurs from around the world as the perfect place to run a laptop-based startup.

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.


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