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Bitcoin in the heart of Europe – Cointelegraph Magazine

Bitcoin in the heart of Europe – Cointelegraph Magazine


Prague is the birthplace of the world’s first {hardware} pockets, the primary Bitcoin mining pool, and, reportedly, even the primary Bitcoin cafe. It’s among the many most prosperous cities in Central Europe, visited by hundreds of thousands of vacationers annually.

Ranked as one in all Europe’s most charming and exquisite cities, Prague is a burgeoning tech hub with a brand new era of crypto-saavy people populating its streets.

 

Quick details

Metropolis: Prague
Nation: Czechia
Inhabitants: 2.7 million (Metropolitan Space)
Established: eighth Century
Languages: Czech, Slovak, English, Ukrainian, German, Vietnamese, Russian

 

 

Crypto City Guide to Prague
Prague was a number one metropolis within the adoption of Bitcoin.

 

 

Perceive

Identified for its bridges, majestic fortifications and Bohemian structure, Prague was voted probably the most stunning metropolis on the planet final 12 months by Time Out Journal. On the crossroads of Europe, it’s visited by over 8 million vacationers yearly and has grow to be a preferred alternative amongst filmmakers as a backdrop, together with the makers of Mission: Unimaginable and On line casino Royale. 

Greater than 1,000 years in the past, the migration of the Czech individuals — a Western Slavic tribe — based the Metropolis of Prague on the banks of the Vltava river. Prague rapidly developed into a significant metropolitan heart in medieval instances and was the seat of many Bohemian kings who would additionally reign because the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Dominated over variously by the Austrian Empire, a brief period of independence, after which by Nazi Germany, Prague managed to flee destruction by the hands of Nazis or Allied bombers. However after simply three years of independence after the warfare, communists backed by the Soviet Union staged a coup and toppled the nation’s democratic authorities in 1948. Growth stalled throughout communist instances, and regardless of a flicker of hope for liberalism within the Prague Spring of 1968, it wasn’t till the Velvet Revolution protests that the ruling communist celebration resigned on Nov. 28, 1989, placing the native individuals as soon as once more accountable for their very own destinies. 

 

 

The Powder Tower during the Habsburg Era | Photo Source: Old-Prague.com
The Powder Tower throughout the Habsburg period. Supply: Outdated-Prague.com

 

 

Crypto tradition

At the moment, Prague is a number one tech hub in Central Europe. Having modified currencies as soon as a era attributable to their numerous rulers and independence, the Czech persons are recognized for financial skepticism and have enthusiastically adopted digital currencies. This curiosity has been compounded by the rising inflationary strain on the Czech koruna (CZK), which stood at 18.0% each year in June 2022. 

 

 

 

 

Companies corresponding to SatoshiLabs, Alza, Trezor, Braiins and lots of others have ramped up schooling about digital belongings within the nation. Nevertheless, the Czech Nationwide Financial institution has largely remained on the sidelines with regard to regulating the business. Whereas curiosity in crypto stays robust among the many Czech individuals (particularly these in Prague), latest business blowups and bear market sell-offs have hampered confidence considerably. 

However that doesn’t take away from the truth that it was right here the place the world’s first {hardware} pockets, first Bitcoin mining swimming pools and first Bitcoin espresso store all got here into motion throughout the previous decade. In recent times, Prague has additionally grow to be a hotspot for digital nomads, being voted as the highest vacation spot on the planet for distant work, together with Krakow, Poland in 2021. Due to the trouble of early adopters, the town is rife with crypto meetups, hackathons, venues and seminars that make it distinct from its neighbors in Central Europe. 

 

 

 Prague’s Old Town Square
Prague’s Outdated City Sq.. Supply: Zhiyuan Solar

 

 

Notable Tasks

These days, cryptocurrency {hardware} wallets are famend for his or her means to safeguard traders’ belongings in a self-custodied method, however simply who invented them? The concept all began in 2011 after a Bitcoin convention in Prague.

Two crypto lovers, Pavol “Stick” Rusnák and Marek “Slush” Palatinus envisioned a small, single-purpose laptop that will securely retailer customers’ Bitcoin non-public keys. In 2013, the 2 based SatoshiLabs. The next 12 months, the first-ever Trezor pockets — Trezor One — launched. Then got here the Trezor Mannequin T, which added a touchscreen to the machine. Each units have offered over 1 million models since inception, with their firmware patched month-to-month or so. It has grow to be the usual for {hardware} crypto storage worldwide. 

 

 

 

 

SatoshiLabs contains a basket of corporations (Trezor, Invity and Tropic Sq.) forming the forefront of crypto and tech improvement in Czechia.

Trezor model T
The famed Trezor Mannequin T

Aside from its flagship product, it’s also liable for creating over 20 business requirements, such because the restoration seed and passphrase utilized in all cryptocurrency {hardware} wallets in the present day. 

Like many within the crypto business, they have been incensed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine this 12 months and needed to assist. Vojtěch Černý, head of commerce at Trezor, and Bach Nguyen, head of enterprise improvement at Invity, drove practically 900 kilometers to the Slovak–Ukrainian border city of Vel’ké Slemence, delivering humanitarian provides and bringing again 4 ladies and two kids refugees to security in Czechia. 

SatoshiLabs additionally donated 1 million euros value of Bitcoin to charities serving to Ukraine shortly after the warfare began, citing the “results of occupation and destruction of particular person freedom” throughout 5 many years of Communist rule over Czechoslovakia because the inspiration.

Invity is one other department of SatoshiLabs.

The agency is a worth aggregator that scrutinizes each crypto trade and different platforms to seek out one of the best charges for buying cryptocurrency. It combines every thing in a single place with a simple interface designed for customers simply stepping into crypto. Invity additionally has a variety of assets about schooling for novel crypto lovers. 

Lastly, throughout the improvement of Trezor at SatoshiLabs, it turned clear that the agency wanted an auditable built-in circuit with higher safety options than market options. Thus, Tropic Sq. was born with an formidable plan to make an open-source, auditable customized chip to remodel low entropy code into excessive entropy knowledge for cryptographic operations. Led by tech-savvy builders corresponding to CEO Evžen Englberth and chief know-how officer Jan Pleskač, chips developed by Tropic Sq. at the moment are present in each one in all Trezor’s {hardware} wallets.

 

 

Tropic Square staff at SatoshiLabs headquarters | Photo Credits: Tropic Square
Tropic Sq. employees at SatoshiLabs headquarters. Supply: Tropic Sq.

 

 

Earlier than he created Trezor, Palatinus based the primary Bitcoin mining undertaking in Prague in 2010, which was merely known as Bitcoin.cz. After he moved on, Braiins, an organization doing embedded Linux improvement and analysis, took over the mining pool and renamed it accordingly (till lately rebranding it again to Slush Pool), with 1.3 million BTC mined since inception.

Quick ahead to now, Braiins/Slush Pool has grown to grow to be one of many greatest Bitcoin mining swimming pools. There are at present over 15,000 customers of the agency’s mining optimization software program within the area, with its complete hash price accounting for five%–8% of the general Bitcoin community. The corporate derives 100% of its revenue through BTC and prices a 2%–2.5% fee from its mining firmware.

Kristian Csepcsar, chief advertising officer of Braiins, explains that mining and Bitcoin is a lifestyle — not only a method to earn a living:

“Bitcoin miners are probably the most hardcore Bitcoiners, and their dedication to safe networks may be seen within the world hash price numbers. Bitcoin’s worth fell greater than 70% lately, however the hash price has solely dropped about 20% from all-time highs…. Bitcoin’s relative worth to fiat can change, however Bitcoin will likely be ceaselessly one Bitcoin, and miners deeply perceive this level.”

 

 

Braiins core team at Bitcoin Mining Conference 2022 in Prague | Photo Credits: Braiins
Braiins core group at Bitcoin Mining Convention 2022 in Prague. Supply: Braiins

 

 

Normal Bytes is the world’s second-largest Bitcoin and ATM producer, with places of work in Prague and Bradenton, Florida. Since its inception in 2013, the corporate has offered over 13,000 machines throughout 142 nations, most of that are situated in the USA.

A General Bytes ATM
A Normal Bytes ATM. Supply: Normal Bytes

Greater than 180 fiat currencies can be utilized to buy 60+ kinds of digital belongings at its money machines. Over 22.5 million crypto transactions have been carried out worldwide on its community of Bitcoin ATMs. 

Backed by the $2.5-billion Rockaway Capital, the Rockaway Blockchain Fund is a venture capital firm backing main Web3 founders. Based in 2020, the Prague-based agency has now invested in 36 initiatives and 26 funds. Along with investing capital and boosting liquidity, Rockaway backs its initiatives by way of neighborhood networking, a staking group that runs its validator nodes, and an in-house improvement group often called RBF Labs. It was one of many early backers of Solana, together with a number of investments within the Cosmos ecosystem, together with Agoric.

Rockaway raised $123 million in its first VC fund, which is now practically 75% deployed with a portfolio worth of roughly $300 million as of June 30. Along with that, RBF additionally has a separate lending fund that gives loans to market makers and liquidity to DeFi protocols, with an asset beneath administration of roughly $35 million on the finish of June.

The place can I spend my crypto?

Situated close to the center of Prague’s Outdated City is Bar No. 7, a laid-back venue with multilingual employees that’s extraordinarily fashionable amongst expats and locals alike. It’s additionally a fantastic place to go for worth on one’s crypto: One can get scrumptious cocktails for round 150 CZK every ($6.24) and a pint of beer for simply 25 CZK ($1.04) all paid for with crypto. There’s additionally a Bitcoin ATM situated proper contained in the venue. However beware — it will get packed rapidly within the evenings virtually day-after-day of the week. 

 

 

Bar No. 7 Praha. Supply: Zhiyuan Solar

 

 

For scenic, short-term leases or long-ish stays, you may e-book and pay for lodging with Prague Siesta Residences utilizing Bitcoin. Residences are situated on the coronary heart of Prague, a minute’s stroll away from sights such because the Outdated City Sq. and the Astronomical Clock. Costs differ by season and sometimes fluctuate above or beneath 2,000 CZK per evening ($83.08) with reductions for longer stays. 

Paralelní Polis is the primary espresso store to just accept cryptocurrencies in Central Europe and has been lively since 2014. Although it has now largely advanced to grow to be a co-working area and membership venue, internet hosting numerous occasions, initiatives and refreshments for its members. However one can nonetheless buy the venue’s authentic Bitcoin Espresso at its doorstep. Bitcoin, Litecoin or Lightning Community are accepted. It’s named after Czech activist Václav Benda’s 1973 idea of “Paralelní Polis” (Parallel Polis) — an unbiased society not oppressed by legal guidelines and selections of representatives of central authorities. The concept turned a rallying name for political dissidents and sounds very very like Libertarian Bitcoiner politics. 

 

 

 

 

Alza is a number one e-commerce platform in Central Europe with near $1.2 billion in annual gross sales. It has a catalog of crypto-related {hardware} units that prospects pays for with Bitcoin (Ether and Litecoin funds are anticipated sooner or later). It additionally accepts Bitcoin on its native e-commerce subsidiaries working in Slovakia, Germany, Austria, the UK and on Alzashop.com.

For crypto vacationers who don’t have an tackle in Prague to ship to, you may get merchandise shipped to the distinctive Alza Bins bundle lockers for pickup. And due to Normal Bytes, it’s also potential to purchase cryptocurrencies at a few of Alza’s retail areas through in-store ATMs. 

Lastly, A Maze in Tchaiovna is a strong venue for tea and craft beer lovers alike. It’s an all-in-one cease that mixes parts of a teahouse, theater, gallery and bar. Cryptocurrency may be tendered for drinks and snacks. Dwell music is out there periodically.

 

 

 

 

Training

Braiins, the corporate behind Slush Pool, runs a common weblog about get began on one’s Bitcoin mining rig, together with the economics of such an operation. Equally, Alza has its personal weblog collection devoted to educating readers and buyers about Bitcoin. However Braiins takes it one step additional by additionally publishing a collection of books in regards to the nature of Bitcoin decentralization and the long run. They’re free to learn and can be found in each onerous copies and as full pdfs on its website. 

At the moment, the College of New York in Prague is issuing digital diplomas utilizing blockchain know-how for all levels accredited by the Czechia’s Ministry of Training. College students are offered a hyperlink to such accreditation with a QR code connected to confirm its authenticity and may be freely shared amongst social networks. 

 

 

Bitcoin: Odluka peněz od státu (Bitcoin: The Separation of Money From the State) by Josef Tětek and published by Braiins (in Czech) | Photo Credits: Josef Tětek
‘Bitcoin: Odluka peněz od státu’ (Bitcoin: The Separation of Cash From the State) by Josef Tětek and printed by Braiins. Supply: Josef Tětek

 

 

Controversies

Being a closely-knit crypto neighborhood, Prague just isn’t recognized for crypto scams or digital asset-related crime. The vast majority of misconduct occurred within the earlier decade, such because the collapse of the Bitcash.cz crypto trade in 2013 and the theft of roughly 485 BTC. One other occasion concerned Czech nationwide Tomáš Jiříkovský and his alleged position in laundering $40 million value of BTC in stolen funds from a securities fraud case in 2015. Earlier this 12 months, an incident occurred with Trezor the place the agency’s buyer knowledge was breached on third-party knowledge vendor Mailchimp. It subsequently advanced right into a phishing rip-off earlier than it was rapidly addressed. 

That stated, a way more critical incident occurred on August 18. By way of a zero-day bug, hackers made themselves the default directors of Normal Bytes’ ATMs and modified settings so that every one deposits have been transferred to their pockets tackle. A central shopper entry server internet hosting the whole lot of the corporate’s operation was compromised. Normal Bytes has urged prospects to chorus from utilizing its servers till its homeowners patches the exploit in an replace.

 

 

 

 

 

Notable Folks

Pavol “Stick” Rusnák, co-founder of SatoshiLabs; Mark “Slush” Palatinus, co-founder of SatoshiLabs; Pavel Moravec, co-CEO of Braiins; Jan Capek, co-CEO of Braiins; Bach Nguyen, head of enterprise improvement at Invity; Vojtěch Frgál, CEO of Normal Bytes; Evžen Englberth CEO of Tropic Sq.; Jan Pleskač, chief know-how officer of Tropic Sq.; Josef Tětek, economist and SatoshiLabs’ model ambassador; Kristian Csepscar, chief advertising officer of Braiins; Vojtěch Černý, head of commerce at Trezor; Tommy Poole, proprietor of Bar No. 7 Praha. 

Cointelegraph members based mostly in Prague: 

Ever marvel whose artistic thoughts is behind that of Cointelegraph’s signature creative type? Properly, Cointelegraph’s gifted artwork group is led none-other by lead artist and artwork editor Anastasia Zhdanova, who is predicated in Prague. With an artwork profession spanning 13+ years, Zhdanova can be the creator behind the Серые будни магов (Magic Routine) comedian collection. She graduated from the distinguished Stieglitz Academy of Artwork and Design in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

 

 

Europe and Crypto as portrayed by the Cointelegraph Art Team
Europe and crypto as portrayed by the Cointelegraph artwork group

 

 

When you’ve got any strategies for additions to this information, please get in contact with zhiyuan.sun@cointelegraph.com 

 

 

 

 





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