Joerg Platzer is the owner of 'Room77', a restaurant in the popular Graefekiez district of Berlin. Accepting Bitcoin for payments since 2011 it was arguably the first bricks-and-mortar business worldwide to accept cryptocurrencies. Employees can choose to receive part of their salary in Bitcoin. 'Room77' is working to integrate Bitcoin into more and more of its business relationships.
Mr Platzer, in 2011 cryptocurrencies were in much less public focus and distribution than today. What was your initial motivation to accept Bitcoin payments in 'Room77'?
Mr Platzer: To be honest I just wanted to have some and it was easier to exchange dinners and drinks for Bitcoin than to mine them on my laptop. I wanted to have some though because I had what other people describe as 'the Bitcoin moment': the moment you realize that you are looking at an innovation with breathtaking implications and all you want is to have some of that stuff and be part of it.
How satisfied are you with the results?
Mr Platzer: More than happy. We can accept digital payments without paying half of our profit to the banks and we have zero chargebacks as you do with credit cards. Customers from other currency areas don't have to exchange money and pay high exchange fees, so they eat and drink at a huge discount at our place. So everybody's happy - well, except the banks. And at the same time we are taking part in one of the biggest changes in economics in human history. A change that is of benefit to every single individual on the planet and which is redistributing power and possibilities back to where they belong - to the people themselves, away from huge faceless corporate conglomerates.
What development can you observe in the four years 'Room77' is handling Bitcoin?
Mr Platzer: Increasing usage, increasing ease of use, increasing interest from all sides. Increase in all respects even though that is not being mirrored by the exchange rate at the moment, but that was also to be expected.
Were there any effects you did not forsee?
Mr Platzer: Yes, the speed of adoption. Do you remember the tiny handfull of people who showed up to the Bitcoin meetups in the early days? If anyone back then would have predicted that in a few years Dell, Expedia and Microsoft would accept Bitcoin everybody would have laughed at them, even you and me. The Bitcoin economy is growing at a speed that not even the biggest enthusiasts would have expected.
What is your prediction for working with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?
Mr Platzer: I believe that cryptocurrencies and the underlying mechanisms of crypto economics are about to spread all around the globe. Looking at the speed of that development I should rather say 'observe' than 'believe' though. However, to me it looks like by the end of this decade nobody on the planet will have to use a a bank for anything anymore and that we will be interacting, trading and cooperating on a p2p (as in 'person to person') level in ways that we actually cannot really imagine yet. We can already gather though that this is of huge advantage for individuals as well as for society at large. Actually for me this development is the light at the end of the dark tunnel of our legacy financial and economic system.
Thank you for your insights!