Agnes Water, a coastal town and a famous travel destination located in Queensland, Australia, has announced it is now the first “digital currency town” in the country. The goal is to attract more international investors to the region to drive the growth of the tourism sector.
The town with around 2000 residents is now welcoming new travelers with a billboard which reads “Welcome to Agnes Water-1770, Australia’s First Digital Currency Town.” Over 30 local businesses have started to support payments in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, litecoin, bitcoin cash, NEM, and ethereum, via an app developed by an Australian crypto company called TravelbyBit.
The idea to bring cryptocurrency payments to Agnes Water reportedly belongs to local real estate agent, Gordon Christian, who first learned about the technology after a client enquired how to process a payment in bitcoin. After he found out that several retailers at Brisbane International Airport, which is a five-hour drive from Agnes Water, started accepting payments in virtual money, he understood the initiative is worth it.
“I thought, ‘This is something worth having a look at’,” he said. “We started from the ground up, shared it with a couple of businesses and they were straight on board… I guess they were international travelers themselves and had heard of these types of payments. Initially, we had a good 10 businesses that just said, ‘Fine — let’s go for it’.”
According to Christian, it wasn’t easy to sell the idea, which, however, has quickly spread throughout Agnes Water businesses. Shortly after the launch of cryptocurrency payments at the Brisbane Airport, he reached out to TravelbyBit CEO, Caleb Yeoh, who agreed to support the initiative.
“If you travel around the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers… Travelling with on global currency like bitcoin … makes sense,” Yeoh said, adding that the technology will help to protect merchants from creadit card fraud and make transactions more transparent and safe.
As Australia’s first ‘digital currency town’, Agnes Water has all the potential to attract digital-savvy international tourists to Agnes Water rather than other mainstream destinations like Sydney or Melbourne.
“We’ve got merchants all over Australia but they’re very sporadic. [Agnes Water and] the Town of 1770 has the highest concentration,” Yeoh said. “The town has made a very strategic move in trying to appeal to a niche market to take perhaps some of those tourists … to come out to their little part of the woods.”
“People who use cryptocurrency … it’s a social movement and they believe in it, and therefore they support places … who take it. So they would come to a place like this just because it takes digital currency.”