10 Thoughts from 2 weeks in St Kitts / BCH22

I'm sitting in the SKN airport right now waiting for my flight out. As far as I'm aware, I think I'm the last international conference attendee to leave, although there's nothing significant about that, it's just a curiosity.

I thought it might be interesting to make a post with a few thoughts from spending time here with a bunch of other conference attendees and exploring the island.

  1. “Bad” news first. Is St Kitts 100% (merchant) adopted? No, not even close. 50% merchant adoption? No, probably not that either. If the criteria is narrowed to retail brick-and-mortar merchants in certain tourist heavy parts of the island? Yes, with those caveats (ie drawing a selective perimeter), it's probably accurate to say 50% of those places accept BCH. Silver lining: It's a non trivial area and they do actually accept BCH. Sometimes it might be more or less smooth (staff familiarity with accepting payments in BCH varies, sometimes the phone used to accept BCH isn't charged etc.), but in nearly all cases where the “BCH accepted here” stickers can be found it is possible to pay in BCH. Staff or technology issues can be managed with a little patience and the staff are happy to facilitate, it's not a hassle or something they find frustrating even if it isn't totally smooth.

  2. Several BCH22 attendees spent only BCH while here – no fiat at all. Even if that was partly facilitated by sticking to the BCH accepting areas, I'd say that's very impressive and lives up to the “100% adoption” claim of the event from that person's point of view. I didn't quite manage that (read: I was willing to bend a little for convenience), I used fiat on 1.5 taxi rides (I onboarded one of my taxi drivers, and they agreed to take half payment in BCH) and three or four times at the grocery store next to the hotel, but otherwise for me only BCH for nearly 2 weeks.

  3. On St Kitts, BCH is Bitcoin. It's a simple, uncontested fact. I was careful to specify “Bitcoin Cash” when I first arrived, but putting the “cash” part in meant sometimes the locals thought I was offering a choice with USD, so I stopped bothering with that and just said “Bitcoin”. Everyone knows exactly what you mean. I expect this to play out similarly in other areas where BCH can build heavy, real-world adoption. I only heard a local mention any other crypto, BTC, ETH or any other, one time when telling me that he was involved in speculating in different cryptos online.

  4. The locals have a spectrum of opinions on BCH adoption, but for the most part are interested and curious. No one I encountered was actively hostile to it. As mentioned in point 3, everyone knows about it at least, and many are curious and will ask questions or give their opinion, clearly they are acclimatising to the idea. I talked to a dealer at the casino and asked if they would accept BCH to buy in some poker chips and she said “No we don't take it yet, but it's just money, so I don't see why we wouldn't.” Her words unknowingly echoing the “It's just money bro” commercial made me laugh, and it's very clear that people on the island understand the idea of BCH as a currency foremost (a natural conclusion from seeing the BCH accepted here stickers and people paying in BCH) and not as an investment.

  5. Of course, some (a minority) of locals are regular BCH users, mostly the ones close to the inflowing tourist satoshis or local BCH accepting businesses, but I expect that to spread outwards throughout the economy over time. Many BCH tips were handed out by conference attendees, and locals who weren't interested in accepting BCH at a shop or as a tip would certainly have realised that doing so was directly costing them an opportunity they could have otherwise grabbed because those BCH politely and immediately flowed towards someone else nearby who would accept them.

  6. In hindsight, the conference may have been timed very well at the bottom of the bear market. Coins spent into the economy here were set at a low price, and when the price rises whoever still has some will feel very excited they do.

  7. Groups of conference attendees and local adoption forms a kind of “natural peer-to-peer DEX”. At times where a venue would not accept BCH, one willing person could pay in fiat and all the conference people could pay them back in BCH, and even when the venue did accept BCH sometimes 1 person paid the tab and everyone else paid them back afterwards. This was of course smooth as butter between attendees from all around the world, and completely avoided the usual hassle of spare change, “Do you have Paypal?”, “Do you use split wise?”, “What's your account number?” that this kind of situation usually creates. I also saw several instances of direct BCH for cash trades being made.

  8. In practice, internet connectivity tends to not be a logistical issue. I was a little worried about this, but it actually was fine. Internet on the island is pretty good, although occasionally has sudden dropouts. I had a local SIM card with phone data provided by Sunny (thanks Sunny!) but for people who didn't or had run out of data, either the BCH accepting venues had their own free Wifi (great combo for merchants accepting BCH) or someone else in the group could provide a hotspot. This combined super well with the point 7 about p2p exchange above.

  9. The FTX disaster happening in the background was essentially a non factor in discouraging local adoption, because everyone is using non custodial BCH so is totally unaffected (except to the extent price was briefly down a little bit). I heard some other tourists discussing it though, with one of the group doing a hamfisted job of explaining to his party the difference between FTX and the BCH adoption they were seeing around the island.

  10. I'm really looking forward to coming back next year (BCH23!) and seeing how things progress. It's hard to imagine adoption could ever go in reverse given the seeds of a circular economy and the locals overall friendliness to the concept, but who knows. I can certainly see a bit of positive price action and/or a legal tender announcement leading to a lot of buzz and snowballing adoption fast. Also, every day the people closer to the BCH economy will be getting a relative advantage that is absolutely certain and so it will become more prominent over time.

Great work by everyone involved on the ground here, I am very confident St Kitts has the highest per capita non custodial crypto adoption in the world. I think that's a fair summary and I'm sure other conference attendees can chime in with their experience in the comment section. I will also discuss some of this on an upcoming BCH Podcast episode.

10 Thoughts from 2 weeks in St Kitts / BCH22