A crossroads in Gangnam, southern Seoul, tens or even hundreds of people pass a minute. A “blockchain cafe” appeared in this expensive land lined with cafes. Its appearance, stylized with white exterior paints, is no different from that of an ordinary cafe. But passers-by make their ways often glancing at the inside of the cafe, probably intrigued by the wording of its sign reading “Blockchain cafe.”
Upon entering the cafe, screen placed on every window catches one‘s eye. “You may have been surprised by cryptocurrency tickers.” Noh Seung-wook, chief marketing officer of Decentre that opened the cafe and functions as a startup accelerator, spoke to me instead of greetings. He said, “Each screen displays market price information provided by such crypto exchanges as Bithumb, Upbit and CoinBene and ads for projects rarely seen in everyday life,” adding that “of course we receive information real time only from exchanges with which we signed a memorandum of understanding.”
Some people burst into laughter while looking at the beverage menu at a desk where orders are taken. That’s because of the names of coffee drinks on the menu that come from such celebs in the blockchain industry as Satoshi Nakamoto, the alleged inventor of Bitcoin, and Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum.
Standing next to the desk, I ordered ‘Ethiopia Buterin’ out of curiosity. I took a sip of the coffee, imagining a unique and strong taste from Buterin‘s characteristics in appearance and intellectuality _ he is notorious for his elusive fashion sense from addiction with Crypto Kitty bags and unicorn T-shirts. The taste was different though. It was soft and tender. I tilted my head, wondering “what are these names intended for? Might they express expectations for Ethereum to grow well?”
A male customer who had clutched a mobile phone in his hand asked to an employee, “Can’t I pay with a cryptocurrency yet?” In his hand was a mobile phone where a cryptocurrency wallet app was on. The employee replied, “It will be possible to pay with Ethereum-based cryptocurrencies within next month but we only receive cash now,” asking customers to wait a little as “we will likely adopt ERC20 tokens first beginning with Ethereum.”
I wondered what kinds of apps its payment system will rely on. The employee said, “We are building our own crypto payment system. Automated teller machines will also be installed to enable the exchange of cryotpcurrencies into cash.”
Along the hallway to the bathroom was the “Blockchain Wall of Fame” that arranged seemingly successful projects in the order of occurrence. Most projects, except Bitcoin, were based on ERC20. Some customers were seen raising questions in front of the wall, wondering, “There is not a single Korean project. What are screening standards?” As befits its blockchain name, quite a few of the customers to the cafe seemed to have high interest in related technologies and industries. Soon they brought up specific projects on the email@example.com and discussed pending issues concerning the relevant cryptocurrencies.
A person involved in the operation of the cafe had a goal of making the cafe a place where people in the blockchain industry meet to share information and interact with one another. It looked as if he had in mind a salon in Europe from the 17th century to the 19th in which distinguished writers and nobles got along to lay a foundation for the subsequent literary development. “We will play a role as a bridge between businesses and the public through education programs and meetups on blockchain and cryptocurrencies,” Noh said.
/Janice Yunji Kim Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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