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Bitcoin on Wheels: The Story of Bitcoinetas

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Bitcoin on Wheels: The Story of Bitcoinetas

You may have seen that picture of Michael Saylor in a bitcoin-branded van, with a cheerful guy right next to the car door. This one:

Ariel Aguilar and La Bitcoineta European Edition at BTC Prague.

That car is the Bitcoineta European Edition, and the cheerful guy is Ariel Aguilar. Ariel is part of the European Bitcoineta team, and has previously driven another similar car in Argentina. In fact, there are currently five cars around the world that carry the name Bitcoineta (in some cases preceded with the Spanish definite article “La”).

Argentina: the original La Bitcoineta

The story of Bitcoinetas begins with the birth of ‘La Bitcoineta’ in Argentina, back in 2017. Inspired by the vibrancy of the South American Bitcoin community, the original Bitcoineta was conceived after an annual Latin American Conference (Labitconf), where the visionaries behind it recognized a unique opportunity to promote Bitcoin education in remote areas. Armed with a bright orange Bitcoin-themed exterior and a mission to bridge the gap in financial literacy, La Bitcoineta embarked on a journey to bring awareness of Bitcoin’s potential benefits to villages and towns that often remained untouched by mainstream financial education initiatives. Operated by a team of dedicated volunteers, it was more than just a car; it was a symbol of hope and empowerment for those living on the fringes of financial inclusion.

The concept drawing for La Bitcoineta from December 2017.

Ariel was part of that initial Argentinian Bitcoineta team, and spent weeks on the road when the car became a reality. The original dream to bring bitcoin education even to remote areas within Argentina and other South American countries came true, and the La Bitcoineta team took part in dozens of local bitcoin meetups in the subsequent years.

The original La Bitcoineta from Argentina.

One major hiccup came in late 2018, when the car was crashed into while parked in Puerto Madryn. The car was pretty much destroyed, but since the team was possessed by a honey badger spirit, nothing could stop them from keeping true to their mission. It is a testament to the determination and resilience of the Argentinian team that the car was quickly restored and returned on its orange-pilling quest soon after.

Argentinian Bitcoineta after a major accident (no-one got hurt); the car was restored shortly after.

Over the more than 5 years that the Argentinian Bitcoineta has been running, it has traveled more than 80,000 kilometers – and as we’ll see further, it inspired multiple similar initiatives around the world.

Follow La Bitcoineta’s journey:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/labitcoineta

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bitcoineta/

El Salvador: Bitcoin Beach

In early 2021, the president of El Salvador passed the Bitcoin Law, making bitcoin legal tender in the country. The Labitconf team decided to celebrate this major step forward in bitcoin adoption by hosting the annual conference in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. And correspondingly, the Argentinian Bitcoineta team made plans for a bold 7000-kilometer road trip to visit the Bitcoin country with the iconic Bitcoin car.

However, it proved to be impossible to cross so many borders separating Argentina and Salvador, since many governments were still imposing travel restrictions due to a Covid pandemic. So two weeks before the November event, the Labitconf team decided to fund a second Bitcoineta directly in El Salvador, as part of the Bitcoin Beach circular economy. Thus the second Bitcoineta was born.

Salvadoran’s Bitcoineta operates in the El Zonte region, where the Bitcoin Beach circular economy is located.

The eye-catching Volkswagen minibus has been donated to the Bitcoin Beach team, which uses the car for the needs of its circular economy based in El Zonte.

Follow Bitcoin Beach:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Bitcoinbeach

South Africa: Bitcoin Ekasi

Late 2021 saw one other major development in terms of grassroots bitcoin adoption. On the other side of the planet, in South Africa, Hermann Vivier initiated the Bitcoin Ekasi project. “Ekasi” is a colloquial term for a township, and a township in the South African context is an underdeveloped urban area with a predominantly black population, a remnant of the segregationist apartheid regime. Bitcoin Ekasi emerged as an attempt to introduce bitcoin into the economy of the JCC Camp township located in Mossel Bay, and has gained a lot of success on that front.

Bitcoin Ekasi was in large part inspired by the success of the Bitcoin Beach circular economy back in El Salvador, and the respect was mutual. The Bitcoin Beach team thus decided to pass on the favor they received from the Argentinian Bitcoineta team, and provided funds to Bitcoin Ekasi for them to build a Bitcoineta of their own.

Bitcoin Ekasi’s Bitcoineta as seen at the Adopting Bitcoin Cape Town conference.

Bitcoin Ekasi’s Bitcoineta as seen at the Adopting Bitcoin Cape Town conference. Hermann Vivier is seen in the background.

South African Bitcoineta serves the needs of Bitcoin Ekasi, a local bitcoin circular economy in the JCC Camp township.

Bitcoin Ekasi emerged as a sister organization of Surfer Kids, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower marginalized youths through surfing. The Ekasi Bitcoineta thus partially serves as a means to get the kids to visit various surfer competitions in South Africa. A major highlight in this regard was when the kids got to meet Jordy Smith, one of the most successful South African surfers worldwide.

Coincidentally, South African surfers present an intriguing demographic for understanding Bitcoin due to their unique circumstances and needs. To make it as a professional surfer, the athletes need to attend competitions abroad; but since South Africa has tight currency controls in place, it is often a headache to send money abroad for travel and competition expenses. The borderless nature of Bitcoin offers a solution to these constraints, providing surfers with an alternative means of moving funds across borders without any obstacles.

Photo taken at the South African Junior Surfing Championships 2023. Back row, left to right:

Mbasa, Chuma, Jordy Smith, Sandiso. Front, left to right: Owethu, Sibulele.

To find out more about Bitcoineta South Africa and the non-profit endeavors it serves, watch Lekker Feeling, a documentary by Aubrey Strobel:

Follow Bitcoin Ekasi:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitcoinEkasi

Fundraiser: https://support.bitcoinekasi.com/

Europe: Bitcoineta Europa

The European Bitcoineta started its journey in early 2023, with Ariel Aguilar being one of the main catalysts behind the idea. Unlike its predecessors in El Salvador and South Africa, the European Bitcoineta was not funded by a previous team but instead secured support from individual donors, reflecting a grassroots approach to spreading financial literacy.

European Bitcoineta sports a hard-to-overlook bitcoin logo along with the message “Bitcoin is Work. Bitcoin is Time. Bitcoin is Hope.”

The European Bitcoineta is a Mercedes box van adorned with a prominent Bitcoin logo and inspiring messages, and serves as a mobile hub for education and discussion at numerous European Bitcoin conferences and local meetups. Inside its spacious interior, both notable bitcoiners and bitcoin plebs share their insights on the walls, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration.

Inside the European Bitcoineta, one can find the wall of fame, where visitors can read messages from prominent bitcoiners such as Michael Saylor, Uncle Rockstar, Javier Bastardo, Hodlonaut, and many others.

On the “pleb wall”, any bitcoiner can share their message (as long as space permits).

Follow Bitcoineta Europa’s journey:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitcoinetaEU

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bitcoinetaeu/

Ghana: Bitcoineta West Africa

Embed: https://youtu.be/8oWgIU17aIY?si=hrsKmMIA7lI6jX4k

Introduced in December 2023 at the Africa Bitcoin Conference in Ghana, the fifth Bitcoineta was donated to the Ghanaian Bitcoin Cowries educational initiative as part of the Trezor Academy program.

Bitcoineta West Africa was launched in December 2023 at the Africa Bitcoin Conference. Among its elements, it bears the motto of the Trezor Academy initiative: Bitcoin. Education. Freedom.

Bitcoineta West Africa was funded by the proceeds from the bitcoin-only limited edition Trezor device, which was sold out within one day of its launch at the Bitcoin Amsterdam conference.

With plans for an extensive tour spanning Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and potentially other countries within the ECOWAS political and economic union, Bitcoineta West Africa embodies the spirit of collaboration and solidarity in driving Bitcoin adoption and financial inclusion throughout the Global South.

Bitcoineta West Africa surrounded by a group of enthusiastic bitcoiners at the Black Star Square, Accra, Ghana.

Follow Bitcoineta West Africa’s journey:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitcoinetaWA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bitcoinetawa/

All the Bitcoineta cars around the world share one overarching mission: to empower their local communities through bitcoin education, and thus improve the lives of common people that might have a strong need for bitcoin without being currently aware of such need. As they continue to traverse borders and break down barriers, Bitcoinetas serve as a reminder of the power of grassroots initiatives and the importance of financial education in shaping a more inclusive future. The tradition of Bitcoinetas will continue to flourish, and in the years to come we will hopefully encounter a brazenly decorated bitcoin car everywhere we go.

If the inspiring stories of Bitcoinetas have ignited a passion within you to make a difference in your community, we encourage you to take action! Reach out to one of the existing Bitcoineta teams for guidance, support, and inspiration on how to start your own initiative. Whether you’re interested in spreading Bitcoin education, promoting financial literacy, or fostering empowerment in underserved areas, the Bitcoineta community is here to help you every step of the way. Together, we will orange pill the world!

This is a guest post by Josef Tetek. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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