On Thursday night, Portsmouth’s historic Music Hall hosted the Seacoast Bitcoin Symposium, part of its #DigitalPorts educational series. The event was organized by Alpha Loft, The Wire , and The Freecoast to introduce the region to the potential of Bitcoin technology. The first 100 arrivals were treated to a paper wallet containing 1 centibit (worth about $6 at present), generously donated by Blockchain.info. The paper wallet was both a keepsake and an incentive for the attendees to start using the digital currency themselves.
The main presenters of the night were Joshua Cyr, owner of the Portsmouth co-working space Alpha Loft, and Dave Karlotski, publisher of seacoast alternative weekly The Wire. They covered such fundamental topics such as the characteristics of money, central vs. distributed networks, and how to read a Bitcoin transaction. Both presenters noted that Bitcoin is increasingly gaining adoption in the online marketplace, citing TigerDirect and Overstock.com as trailblazers in mainstreaming the new technology. It was noted that Overstock.com customers who pay with Bitcoin spend more than their US dollar-paying counterparts per transaction, with an average order of $230 compared to $150, respectively. (See WSJ coverage.) The presentation concluded with a look at future applications of Bitcoin and a brief overview of other competitors in the crypto-currency space, including those whose protocols are distinct enough to become the potential “Bitcoin 2.0″ wherein the exchanges are also decentralized, thus avoiding future debacles such as Mt. Gox’s bankruptcy.
After the presentations, members of the audience participated in a Q&A with a panel of notable guests, amongst them Freecoasters Mike Finger of financial PR firm Centinel Consulting and Matt Carano of Burrito Liberation, the first New Hampshire restaurant to accept Bitcoin. Mike explained that New Hampshire is in a unique position due to its confluence of free-market and tech-forward cultures, and urged attendees to get more involved by attending the monthly Freecoast Bitcoin Meetup. Matt went into the logistics of using and accepting the currency as a business.
Energized attendees lingered in the balcony lobby to discuss what they had heard, and there are reports that discussions continued in local offices the following morning.
Article by Nelson Lourenço & Mike Vine
Check out Freecoast.org for more information about all the great things happening in the seacoast region of New Hampshire!