My Visit to Azte.co Today @joonian @coindesk @blockchain #bitcoin #lovelondon #agorism #gloriousagoristfuture
Picture of the Azte.co storefront, taken by me 20140221.
I read about Azte.co at coindesk.com, in this article. I posted about wanting to visit the store myself. I had originally planned to do so tomorrow (Saturday) but as I was walking my wife to the bus stop for her meeting anyway, I decided I’d go today. I took the 135 bus from Westferry Circus to Aldgate East, and walked past the Petticoat Lane Market to get to New Goulston Street.
On my arrival at #19, I walked in to find Akin Fernandez, a very nice man sitting behind his desk with his Macbook and a printer. We exchanged pleasantries, and began to talk, and I found him to be a very likeable person. It turns out we’re both from New York – it never fails to amaze me that I run into so many New Yorkers in London! We have similar views on the State and it’s overall uselessness, and we are both nonetheless very pragmatic in our dealings with others while thinking about what could be the ideal. Akin recommended two books to me (both by Murray Rothbard) which I’ve never actually read, and I’ve already gotten the first and started reading it. We discussed how bitcoin could empower the poor, and allow people who previously had no access to banking/finance to have a real way to become enfranchised with something as simple as a second-hand mobile phone.
The process of purchasing the Bitcoins was very straightforward. I gave Akin the cash, and he printed me a voucher, as below:
Voucher with codes redacted. It doesn’t matter as I’ve already got the bitcoin. 😉
He suggested that I redeem the voucher as soon as possible, and since I have the blockchain app (from blockchain.info) on my phone, I grabbed a bitcoin address from there, and then pulled up azte.co on my phone’s browser. I entered in the voucher code and my bitcoin address, and in less than thirty seconds I received the bitcoin. I heard a ding on my phone letting me know that the transaction had completed, and a second later a corresponding ding from Akin’s phone let him know that it had finished on his side. (He’s written all the code for the process himself.)
Akin has mentioned that he’s had a couple of difficulties with the process of being a bitcoin shop. The first is that on Apple phones, the process as I just described it would not be possible as Apple has banned the blockchain app from their phones. (Some iPhone users have taken to smashing their phones in protest apparently.) Akin used to actually give away small amounts of bitcoin to show the process to people who came to the store, but with the last eight iPhone users he’s been unable to do so. The second issue is that he is having trouble keeping up with demand! He mentioned that since he’s gained a bit of publicity lately (and the BBC was due to the store to interview him about five minutes after I left) he’s had a lot of people coming in to buy bitcoin. The gentleman before me bought a large supply, and Akin has to make sure to keep up with demand by ensuring his hot wallet has enough bitcoin in it to cover the day’s operations.
Overall, this was a very positive experience – one that I perceive would be exactly the same in the glorious agorist future – the kind of commerce where people interact with each other through a mutually voluntary and beneficial transaction. The process of buying the bitcoin was flawless, and Akin is the kind of person who makes a fantastic ambassador for bitcoin. He’s deeply interested in its success, and his efforts with Azte.co will no doubt contribute to that. I hope that others will emulate his model, and I’ll help wherever I can!