What the hell is Bitcoin really and how can I use it in Berlin?

By Philip Eggersgluess . March 27, 2015

Brian Fabian Crain is a Berlin-based economist and entrepreneur. He is the founder and co-host of Epicenter Bitcoin, Europe’s leading Bitcoin podcast, and the founder and organizer of Bitcoin Startups Berlin, the largest Bitcoin meetup in Germany. He is also one of the founder of the Bitcoin Center Berlin, a cryptocurrency-focused co-working space. He has degrees in economics, philosophy and cognitive science from the University of Chicago, London School of Economics and University College London.

We spoke to Brian about Bitcoin, Berlin why and how to use Bitcoin.


Brian, please tell our readers in two simple sentences what Bitcoin is all about.

Bitcoin is a decentralized, digital currency. It’s not managed by a central bank or company and allows anyone in the world to send money almost instantly without restrictions at (almost) no fees.

So it does not seem complicated at all. An international, virtual currency allowing everyone to use it. Why are people so confused about it? 

People often get confused about how the technology works. That’s indeed not that simple, so often people think that Bitcoin is too complicated and nothing for them. What we tend to forget is that fiat currencies are so complicated that not even the central bankers know what’s going on. Bitcoin is simple in comparison.

But just like it’s not necessary to understand how exactly the email I send gets to its recipient, it’s not necessary to understand every line of Bitcoin code. The best thing is to just try it out and you will understand quickly why this is important.

It seems like with this we may be finally at the edge of a new economical system. When do you think Bitcoin will prevail? 

The pace of innovation is rapid but cryptocurrencies are an incremental improvement. They are truly a technological revolution and those take much more time. I predict that in fifteen years Bitcoin and the underlying technology that makes it possible will have changed the world in more radical ways than any of us can predict.

Is there a page where Berliners can find out where they can pay with Bitcoin and how can Berlin based businesses start accepting them? 

There are quite a few bitcoin-accepting businesses in Kreuzberg and across Berlin. The Bitcoin Kiez  site lists them and businesses that want to start accepting bitcoin, should reach out through the contact form there as well. The most notable is Room 77, a bar at Gräfestrasse that started accepting bitcoin in 2011 as the first real-world business in the world!

Quite honestly I have read a lot about Bitcoin, but I have never used it. What is your recommendation to get started and to have fun with it? 

Just giving it a try and having some fun with it is indeed the best way to go. I just bought a few euros worth of bitcoin on Cubits.com and all it took was five minutes. Then I’d recommend setting up a wallet on the phone, for example the Bitcoin Wallet for Android or Breadwallet for iOS. Then head to Room 77 and have a drink or burger and pay with bitcoin. A great time is every first Thursday of the month when there is a Bitcoin meetup there. For those who want to dive deeper into the topic, there is also the Bitcoin Startups Berlin meetup, where we have talks and which takes place twice a month.

Tell us what you and your business have to do with Bitcoin.

My main project at the moment is Epicenter Bitcoin. It’s a weekly Bitcoin podcast I do together with my co-host Sebastien Couture. We produce weekly episodes listened to by thousands of people in the Bitcoin community all over the world, in which we dive deep into important issues in the cryptocurrency space. You can get it as an audio podcast or find it on SoundCloud or YouTube.

Is there anything else you would like to say? 

A great comparison is that cryptocurrencies are a bit like the internet in 1993. Enormous potential, but still very rough and at its very beginning. So if you want to take a part in shaping this exciting future, you couldn’t live in a better time.

Brian will be speaking at Apps World Germany – your chance to dive in more into the topic!

BERLIN LOVES YOU is official Media Partner of Apps World Germany. For our readers we have a special goodie:
Simply us the Code BERLINLOVESYOU20 to get a 20% discount on your ticket.

Register your free place at Apps World Germany here.

Apps World Germany
CityCube, April 22nd-23rd
Messedamm 26
14055 Berlin


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