From BTC City Ljubljana to the first Bitcoin City in the world

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BTC Company is converting BTC City into a Bitcoin City – the first of its kind in the world to provide its visitors, consumers and business partners with an ecosystem that will develop and integrate advanced technologies based on state-of-the-art approaches (blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Machine Learning and the world of cryptocurrencies). Can you share the concept?

Bitcoin City will enable all of its visitors to pay for the services and products in the BTC City area with selected cryptocurrencies via the EliPay payment system. It will also provide them with state-of-the-art ATMs ensuring a bi-directional conversion of cryptocurrencies and euro, as well as a numerically strong blockchain and start-up community composed not only of companies within the area of BTC City, but also many visitors and enthusiasts who co-create the future with their innovations.

With the new payment system, EliPay, ATMs convert cryptocurrencies and fiat money (euro), as well as with its own blockchain and start-up community, BTC City is transforming into the first Bitcoin City in the world.

Bitcoin City enables its visitors to pay for the services and products with selected cryptocurrencies via the EliPay system. Explain the user experience?

The aim is to develop solutions featuring the latest technological developments in order to make the shopping experience as fast, transparent, safe and user-friendly as possible. Paying with EliPay is easy and user friendly. In fact, you no longer need to carry cash or cards, just the item that has become our constant companion − the smartphone. When paying at the cash register, you select the EliPay payment option, open the EliPay mobile app, scan the QR code generated by the merchant and confirm the transaction. 

 

 

How does payment with a cryptocurrency work when paying for services or products that have a low value (e. g. less than one bitcoin)?

This is a frequent question in the cash-dominated world of shopping because we have an image of an enormous amount of change being returned and carrying it around in a jam-packed wallet. The advantage of crypto payments is just that – no more cash or physical change. The virtual currency sphere is quite used to decimals, especially in the case of bitcoin which has eight decimals altogether and is worth a substantial amount that one would hardly spend in one’s daily purchases, except for highly valuable items. All of the calculations and currency exchanges are done automatically, so there is no risk of a decimal being omitted and suchlike. But yes, be prepared to see a lot of decimals on your receipt because it will state the amount in both the selected cryptocurrency and euros.

These kinds of projects carry an important message for the crypto industry. The EliPay app is to be launched in Slovenia by the end of 2018. How do you see the future of the app, what are your thoughts on its global potential?

Over the last decade, the crypto industry has given rise to novelties, currencies and communities with amazing inventions, but has mostly been active at online exchanges. Now it is time to go beyond the ‘online borders’ and share these creations with the rest of the world because everyone can benefit, especially from the safety and transparency of blockchain technology, which is the technology on which cryptocurrencies are based. It is safe to say that blockchain is expected to become one of the major mainstream technologies of the future. Our plan is to test EliPay at BTC City for three months and then expand its presence.

What makes BTC City an ideal testing lab for showcasing the usability of EliPay in the offline world?

BTC City provides an ideal shopping microcosm for launching the EliPay solution at the global level for two reasons. Firstly, it consists of approximately 450 stores of various kinds with more and more of them being interested in cryptocurrencies via the payment system. Secondly, Slovenia has a very strong crypto community. When looking for volunteers to test EliPay for the next three months, we were met with a pleasant response. There are also other interesting solutions, products and apps that are being tested or will be tested in BTC City Living Lab with our strategic partners and start-ups.

 

 

Are there any other digital initiatives that are currently incubating at BTC City Ljubljana? For example, we have read a lot in both the national and international media recently about BTC City Ljubljana transforming itself into a R&D ecosystem for the autonomous vehicles industry. Sounds impressive, yet unimaginable. Can you share some more information with us?

It does sound impressive, yet quite imaginable and realistic. We are already taking some concrete steps in this direction based on BTC City’s diverse, dynamic and harmonised infrastructure. The area spans 475,000m2, has 11km of roads, 14 roundabouts and 8,500 parking spaces. It boasts 21 million visitors per year and as many as 40,000 vehicles per day. Not to mention charging stations for electric vehicles, a gas station, bus stops, cycling paths, the rent-a-bike system – BicikeLJ, as well as a parking garage and over 450 shops. The entire ecosystem creates unprecedented potential for never-ending “what-if” scenarios, the crucial component in the autonomous vehicle learning process. What is of paramount importance is the fact that we have received extremely positive feedback from the automotive and related industries so far. Additionally, great success was achieved at our remarkable event at the end of April, which was organised by the BTC Company and the AV Living Lab in BTC City Ljubljana as a part of the TEN-T Days 2018. We received significant interest from exhibitors as well as from the general public who were able to get in touch with nascent autonomous vehicle technology. And not to forget, a ride with the autonomous shuttle, Navya, was demonstrated to the public for the first time in Slovenia. I must say, it was an interesting experience driving through BTC City without a driver!

Additionally, as a part of our living lab initiatives, we are also pursuing other interesting initiatives which could change the way we move, live, work and connect to each other. For example, in our logistics business unit partnership, a pilot project with OriginTrail, a blockchain company, will enable its partners real-time inventory tracking with the use of blockchain technology. We are also gaining new insights in the field of efficient energy consumption with our partners ELES from Slovenia and NEDO, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization from Japan. Managing BTC City Ljubljana as a true smart city is enabled through the user testing of the Smart City platform, provided by the SmartIS company. In order to improve people’s quality of life in large metropoles, best practices could then be shared with city municipalities around the globe. BTC Company has put significant emphasis on creating the so-called blockchain community at BTC City Ljubljana which could not only benefit the parties involved, but due to the very promising potential of blockchain technology then sooner or later also society as a whole. In order to walk our talk, BTC Company signed a letter of intent at the beginning of May, with many other partners, on the establishment of the European Blockchain Hub, where BTC joined as a founding member. And one more thing – did you know that Slovenia is among the leaders in the implementation of fifth generation mobile technologies and that on 1 June, the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia (AKOS) awarded BTC Company the use of frequencies for testing 5G network technology and the implementation of R&D projects in the area of the BTC City Ljubljana? I am sure these cases give you a better impression of how the BTC City of tomorrow will look and the experience it will provide to its visitors.