Last week, I had to say goodbye to our chief of content Jack in Aspen and made my way East towards Denver. It’s one beautiful drive through the Rockies!
And what is the first thing a Bitcoiner does when he visits a new city? Exactly, find a local Bitcoin meetup. Luckily, there was a Bitcoin meetup planned for just that evening when I arrived in Denver so let’s f**king go.
Jagged Mountain in Denver downtown is the place for tonight. I arrive slightly past 7pm and the first thing I realize is I’m thirsty.
The organizer Anthony Feliciano truly goes the extra mile. All beer on tap is made available to purchase through a BTCPay interface on a large tablet he brought to the meetup, or directly through the BTCPay shop which can be found through the QR codes on the table. Here you can check the menu
Thirsty as I am, I order a good craft beer at inflationary prices and write the Sats off as adoption, marketing and self-investment. At least it’s a solid beer and a good excuse for both spending Sats and guilty pleasures. Just kidding of course I repurchase the sats after spending.
Beer and Bitcoin
I get to know the (great bunch of) Bitcoiners present, one of them Mark, even brought copies of the Declaration of Monetary Independence.
I’m in a great mood, so it’s time to ask Anthony a few questions about his vision and experience with bitcoin and lightning meetups.
- Hi Anthony, thanks for taking the time today. Tell us more about yourself, what’s your story, how did you get into Bitcoin?
I got into bitcoin during the FOMO of 2017. Everyday It was in the news as the prices kept going higher and higher. So I took the plunge into Bitcoin. I had little understanding of Bitcoin as a whole at that time. Like many, I thought of it as ‘anonymous’ transactions, but that isn’t the case as I came to learn later on as I educated myself more on the topic.
- What gave to the idea to organize Bitcoin Meetups?
As I started to learn more about Bitcoin as a whole. I sought to seek out others who had similar interests and help me further my understanding in this space. After I moved to Denver 5yrs ago, the Bitcoin scene really started to take off and groups were formed on meetup.com so I started to attend such events. I never really wanted to organize Bitcoin meetups, since there were so many in the area already happening and didn’t want to just be ‘another’ bitcoin group. The events I organized just started in Jan of 2022, and I sought to make them more specialized, differ from others.
- How did you decide to organize events, can you tell us more about the concept of your meetup.
The concepts for my Bitcoin events came about as I am trying to onboard merchants to accept Bitcoin payments, I wanted to bring merchants and bitcoiners together. So, I started in Jan by reaching out to local breweries where I could organize these meetups to take place and bring my local Bitcoiners together. The goal of the event was that all participants had to pay for their beer in sats. The event was a huge success. Merchants were able to see first hand how Bitcoin transactions take place and what the future of bitcoin payments will look like. The attendees were excited because for many it was their first time actually making payments on L2. (Lightning Network). It was a lot of fun.
- Your meetup is great for beginners. The discussions are very beginner friendly, the attendees are all very motivated to help explain their viewpoint and of course it’s great to show Bitcoin and Lightning in action to pay for beer. How are you planning to get interested pre-coiners come to your event?
The goal is always to introduce new people to bitcoin. Usually, the new people that come are because they have a buddy that has been in Bitcoin for a while and finally wanted to see what it was all about. I don’t really advertise my events on social media at the moment, and that’s because I want to keep the group to a relative size so that both merchants and attendees can enjoy it. I figure word of mouth right now from those that attend will be of great help to bring others, especially when they can see some practical use of Bitcoin.
I like to keep the event’s discussions open to bitcoin and encourage people to move around to talk with others. It’s amazing what you can learn because there are so many people with different skill levels at these events, you are bound to have great conversations. Plus, there is always beer to help the encouragement.
- Tell us more about the relationship with bar owners, what do they struggle with, how do you close the deal?
Sure. Breweries have been really receptive to these events, and they love the concept. To gain their interest, I usually setup a web based point of sale (using BTCPayserver) where I load all their beers on tap. I meet the owners in person and show them the setup. From there I perform a simple purchase, I pick the beer, and when it comes time to pay. A QR code loads, I then open my LN wallet and make the transaction. It’s fun to see owners’ faces light up when they get to see first hand bitcoin transactions take place. The real struggle at the moment is when it comes for a merchant to hold bitcoin on their balance sheet.
Most responses I get is that their accountants don’t want them to get involved with Bitcoin. So is that because their accountants don’t have Bitcoin knowledge? Or the tax laws are too complicated and again, don’t want to be involved? Right now the disconnect seems between owners and accountants, and what I mean is, either an owner is going to have to tell his accountant he wants to hold bitcoin on the books and force his position or he will find another accountant that has the knowledge. There is certainly a big gap between CPA with bitcoin knowledge when it comes to taxes.
- Tell us more about your ideas for a whole bitcoin festival
You know, I have been in discussion with a few people from Colorado about doing some kind of bigger Bitcoin Beer festival. The logistics are well beyond what I have done before and will take a lot of organization to make happen. Which is why I am talking with a few others who have the experience in organizing such events. My plan is to sell tickets that people will pay in bitcoin. (obviously to gain more attention we will still accept CC for tickets). It will be held outdoors in a park.
There are many Beer festivals that take place through the summer months in Colorado. So, if you have been to one, it will have the same feel, except there will be a Bitcoin influence about it. What I could envision is maybe some vendors set up information about their products. Maybe, there are some representatives that help onboard new people to setup Bitcoin wallets. There are definitely a lot of possibilities. It just depends on how big we want to go with it. I mean even writing this now, the ideas are firing in my head. But, can I pull it all off, that is to be determined. It was all very exciting.
- What do you enjoy most about organizing meetups?
Hm, while they take a lot of effort, I think everyone is looking to be a part of a Bitcoin group. Just takes one person to put it all together. I think if you can organize it with a purpose or a goal, the meetups can be successful. What I mean is, there are some groups that are just about hanging and discussing Bitcon, then there are some that are about the super deep technical levels of Bitcoin. I am more focused on showing the application side of bitcoin. When people finally use the tools they have been reading about for years, things start to click.
The possibilities come about for other applications, or how the products can be improved. So for me, application is the greatest use case for bitcoin and greatest educator.
- Colorado legalized recreational Marijuana, do you think Bitcoin has good chances to get governmental support in Colorado?
Yeah. Now while Colorado laws aren’t where say the State of Wyoming is with Bitcoin adoption, I believe Colorado will get there in time. Until a few years ago, marijuana was a taboo subject and no one wanted to touch it. Now you look across the US and how many states recognize marijuana for personal use. I can see the same approach being applied to Bitcoin by the same states.
ETHDenver, which I think is some of the biggest Ethereum events that take place every year, has grown exponentially. Colorado governor Jared Polis has attended the last couple events to learn and talk more with the crypto community. So he does recognize the possibilities and job potential for the state.
Colorado just allowed state tax payments to be paid in Bitcoin. So, that is progress.
- Denver on a Bitcoin Standard, what are you looking forward to the most?
Denver on a Bitcoin standard would be exciting. What I want or envision is that Bitcoin operates as a circular economy. Kinda like a barter system free of the traditional financial system. While the latter part is almost impossible to separate, as a community we will need to really push onboarding and merchant adoption. I mean, it is just a matter of time before Block, Paypal, etc push out to their terminals the ability to accept bitcoin payments.
The idea that I’m pushing is to educate businesses or even people for that matter, the ability to hold their own keys and bitcoin. To not rely on the ‘traditional financial system’. If you or your business can be canceled because of a transaction that the ‘Banking system’ doesn’t like, then what’s the point of all of this? Now not only can your fiat be confiscated so can your bitcoin. Then we as a community, didn’t change anything. So a Bitcoin standard to me, is where you and I hold our own keys and can conduct business for a good or service for an agreed amount of sats, that doest require a middle man.
That isn’t necessarily a Denver Bitcoin standard but the standard for doing business in bitcoin.