Over the weekend, thousands of bitcoin and crypto enthusiasts descended on the sleepy little Swiss town of Lugano. More specifically, they piled into a McDonald’s.
Perched on Lake Lugano, McDonald’s Lugano has received countless visits from bitcoins eager to trade satoshis (the smallest denomination of bitcoin) for Big Mac, McFlurries and coffee.
But why were European crypto enthusiasts so excited to pay with bitcoin
In one of the most famous brands in the world? Well, first to prove the Lightning Network, a Layer 2 technology built on top of Bitcoin – but also to fulfill Satoshi Nakamoto’s promise that Bitcoin is, in fact, an electronic cash system.
The entire McDonald’s team was educated and brought into the Bitcoin network just days before the major European Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference, according to the Plan B Forum, Tether Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino told Cointelegraph.
Giving an overview of the use of bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Lugano, the former Italian expert Cointelegraph joked that the process of educating merchants on how to accept cryptocurrency can take a long time: “At McDonald’s, we spend like one week because they have a lot of people working there.”
Ardoino-owned Tether has organized a massive plan for the Italian-speaking economic capital of Switzerland to adopt bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. What started as a plan for citizens to pay their taxes with cryptocurrency has turned into a summer school called the Plan B, a conference called the Plan B Forum and the adoption of a crypto trader – led by McDonald’s.
Cointelegraph investigated the adoption of bitcoin and crypto by merchants to better understand how countries, regions, or, in this case, cities, depend on cryptocurrencies in a beneficial way. Is it possible, for example, to live on cryptocurrencies in Lugano?
More than 60 merchants accept cryptocurrency in Lugano. Source: Plan B
Arduino explained that over the past few months, the Plan B team has configured over 60 merchants to accept cryptocurrencies, but the growth in merchants and crypto payments is already beginning to pick up:
“Basically, it took us 30 traders to get to the first 600 trades. But in just the last five days, we’ve had 600!”
The team at Plan B intends to have 1,000 merchants accepting crypto by the second quarter of 2022. “We have staff working across town,” Arduino explained. The team will prepare more and more merchants to ensure that Lugano becomes the best place to spend cryptocurrency in Europe.
In contrast to El Salvador’s top-down approach to bitcoin, where the president has declared bitcoin a legal tender and where there is said to be little practical educational assistance for people on the ground, Plan B has the luxury of a team of qualified personnel.
In fact, Tether and Plan B have the resources to guide merchants through the process of setting up the cryptocurrency. Additionally, they can receive feedback from merchants and update their systems accordingly, Ardoino shared:
But the problem is also maintenance. We install [POS solutions], and then we have people who check in periodically and say, “Okay, you have problems. Get feedback and so on because you know, otherwise it never works.”
As it is, on the first day of the Plan B conference, the on-site pizzeria operated by Mauro had problems with the payment terminal. The Plan B team quickly corrected the situation. At the Cointelegraph hotel, upon arrival, the receptionist said they would accept crypto payments starting the next day. Cointelegraph held the cash for a full day before, as promised, the hotel’s POS solution was used.
Plan B payment station. Source: Plan B
All Plan B merchants accept payments via color payment terminal in LVGA token, Bitcoin Lightning and Tether
. LVGA is a stable currency agent for the Swiss franc available to local residents.
Related: Crypto-friendly city of Lugano and El Salvador sign economic agreement based on adoption
The business partnership between GoCrypto, a crypto payments company, and Tether. Curiously, Arduino told Cointelegraph that so far, no merchant has turned down the opportunity to accept cryptocurrencies. This experience represents a stark contrast to crypto-merchant adoption in the UK, for example. Arduino explained:
“If your neighbor owns it and starts getting more people walking around and paying, you know, people can get over their biases. When it comes to money, people are more likely to get over their biases.”