For those who feel intimidated by the intricacies of bitcoin, a new organization in Keene aims to make cryptocurrency more acceptable.
Christopher E. Rietmann of Alstead owns Route 101 Local Goods, a shop that sits in Keene’s southeast corner. He said the store will serve as the base for Bitcoin Embassy New Hampshire, which he hopes to launch in mid-September.
In July, Rietmann began upgrading Route 101 Local Goods to accommodate space for seminars and workshops, which will be the thrust of the new group. Venturing into cryptocurrency education wasn’t an outlandish move for Rietmann — his store has accepted bitcoin for payment since it opened in 2015 and offers a vending machine for the currency.
“So we’ve always been a place that people can come a purchase bitcoin,” he said.
He noticed that many customers who spotted the machine expressed dismay at the lack of resources available to learn more about the subject. Rietmann ran with the idea and decided to start by teaching classes himself.
“When we get into more advanced topics like programming, we hope to pull in other crypto-enthusiasts for those courses,” he said. “... I think we can offer something that a lot of people aren’t going to find just by browsing the web.”
Rietmann pointed out that Gavin Andresen, one of the early leaders in the bitcoin industry, lives nearby in Amherst, Mass.
Though Rietmann’s title is executive director of Bitcoin Embassy New Hampshire, he said he hasn’t settled on the entity’s structure — whether it will function as a business, a nonprofit organization or something else.
Using the model of other bitcoin embassies, which he said are popping up around the world, Rietmann plans to accept donations for the classes. Attendees can pay for their initial workshop with traditional forms of money, but after that, Rietmann said donations will be accepted only through cryptocurrency.
“Our feeling is, if we’re going to provide something of value — and we believe that cryptocurrency and its use have tremendous value — then people should be putting this new money where their mouth is,” he said.