Bitcoin Community in Barcelona is thriving
Since inception in 2013, organization promoting use of cryptocurrency boasts membership of over 2,400 people
The Barcelona Bitcoin Community is thriving. Since its inception in 2013, it has been growing steadily, and now boasts a membership of over 2,400 people. And over the years, as interest has been growing in cryptocurrency, more and more communities have been created, including Blockchain Catalunya, which was founded last year. It aims to bring all the communities together. Their shared goal? To raise awareness of the possibilities of cryptocurrencies.
But what is bitcoin? It is a form of digital money based on cryptography. Encryption is used in the regulation and generation of units of currency, allowing the transfer of digital funds, based on the bitcoin’s current worth. There is no need for transactions to pass through a central bank or financial system, as is the case with traditional forms of trading. As bitcoins are based on algorithms, no two are the same. The value of one bitcoin at the time of writing was €8,596.
On Thurdsday, the Barcelona Bitcoin Community held one of its regular meetings at Itnig in the Poble Nou neighbourhood of the Catalan capital.
“In the last few months interest has been growing, probably due to the rise in price, and there are more communities popping up everywhere,” said Carlos Steinblock, a promoter for Blockchain Catalunya.
Bitcoin has been hitting the news a lot recently. For many this cryptocurrency either sounds like a way to make, or lose, money quickly, or the realm of the tech-savvy. The value of a bitcoin is volatile. Last year, the price of just one bitcoin surged by 1500%, and this year has already seen it steadily decrease in value. But there is an ideology behind this quintessentially modern way of carrying out transactions that goes beyond its monetary worth.
According to one of the founders of Barcelona Bitcoin Community, which held one of its regular meetups this week, the digital currency has the potential to be applied in a much broader sense.
“Over the years we learned that it can be applied to many sectors of activity,” explained Aleix Ripol, who has been involved with the community from the start. “For example, the energy sector. And there are many more sectors that can be revolutionized by the way bitcoin functions,” he said.
In fact, only two weeks ago, a house purchase was made in Catalonia using nothing but bitcoins. The digital currency, as well as other cryptocurrencies, relies on what is called a block chain, which is like a public database of financial transactions. As it is decentralized, using the cryptocurrency eliminates the need for intermediaries when buying and selling, therefore cutting down on extra costs such as bank commissions and exchange rates.
“With blockchain, we can trade person to person,” Ripol said. According to Carlos Steinblock, a key promoter for Blockchain Catalunya, a blockchain is a form of public ledger in which all transactions are recorded in a transparent way.
How safe is it?
“You have a set of books which are cloned several thousand times, and everybody can look into the books,” Steinblock said. Encryption means this digital financial database is kept in sync and up-to-date, while users are only able to modify the parts they “own” so to speak. Which, in this case, would be bitcoins or other forms of cryptocurrencies. Even though bitcoin is a relatively failsafe system, as bitcoins cannot be counterfeited, Steinblock and Ripol both lamented that fraud can exist, just as it exists with standard forms of money.
On an international level, there are already many major companies that accept bitcoin as legal tender, including the travel site Expedia, Bloomberg, and even Subway. In theory, anyone can trade in bitcoin, without necessarily being an expert in cryptography. All you need to get you on your way is a bitcoin wallet, which can even be downloaded to your phone.