Bitcoin in La Chaux-de-Fonds: watchmaking, adoption, green energy, and more

Bitcoin in La Chaux-de-Fonds: watchmaking, adoption, green energy, and more

Insights from the Paradigme Bitcoin Conference 2023

What could possibly be in common between centuries-old watchmaking tradition and Bitcoin?

As it happens, quite a few things, and the residents of one of the oldest watchmaking cities in the world – the Swiss La Chaux-de-Fonds – can attest to it.

Last week, the canton of Neuchâtel hosted the second edition of Paradigme Bitcoin conference, gathering enthusiasts who help advance Bitcoin throughout the world, from France to El Salvador to Congo, and of course Switzerland.

We attended the event and here are the four stories that can resume it for you: Bitcoin and watchmaking, Bitcoin adoption, Bitcoin in Africa, and Bitcoin for green energy.

Bitcoin and watchmaking

Swiss watchmakers are known for their precision, rigor, and capacity to create things that endure.

Even if we stop there, the parallels with Bitcoin start to manifest.

Add to this Bitcoin’s relentless creation of blocks every 10 minutes – which has earned it the term “timechain” that many bitcoiners prefer to the somewhat worn-out “blockchain” – and we start to understand the symbolism of a Bitcoin conference in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

That’s not all, of course. The watchmaking industry can have numerous synergies with Bitcoin, for example, product authentication.

Gilles Cadignan of Woleet, a certification platform based on Bitcoin, shared how his company helped Ulysse Nardin create tamper-proof digital warranties that accompany each of their watches.

Roman Winiger, a watchmaker from La Chaux-de-Fonds, founded Open Movement, an association dedicated to the development of new watchmaking standards based on the open-source principle.

Jean-Daniel Jeanneret, representing the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, witnessed to the authorities’ interest in developing more Bitcoin-related businesses, both on municipal and cantonal levels.

Bitcoin adoption

Bitcoin is not an obvious concept for many people, and its mass adoption depends on the quality of educational incentives.

Rogzy from DécouvreBitcoin (BitcoinRabbitHole in English) is working precisely on that. The goal of his non-profit incentive is to provide free educational support on all things Bitcoin and help people educate other people.

This bottom-up approach is proving itself more efficient than the top-down, like the one implemented in El Salvador since its recognition of Bitcoin as a legal tender. Now, following an agreement with the country, DecouvreBitcoin will help organize a series of educational events in schools, universities and elsewhere, to help regular Salvadorans really understand the advantages and the mechanics of Bitcoin, and to give them tools to spread their knowledge across their family and friends.

Bitcoin in Africa​

If there is a place where the benefits of a borderless and accessible currency are most obvious, it is the African continent.

Gloire Wanzavalere, co-founder of Africa Bitcoin Conference, reminded us just how difficult it was for an average African to carry out a money transfer.

📌 The existing payment systems are very slow and inaccessible for the unbanked population, which is considerable;

📌 Alternative telephone-based systems are insecure and limited to countries and operators;

📌 Exchanges between different countries’ currencies are very difficult, expensive, and prone to fraud…

Bitcoin fixes this.

Even if the Bitcoin payment infrastructure in Africa still needs to evolve, more and more people use P2P means to commerce with each other or exchange $BTC against local currencies when they travel.

Bitcoin is already Africa’s currency, albeit not ubiquitous, and Gloire’s efforts are directed at growing the adoption.

Bitcoin for green energy

By now, we all know that Bitcoin is not boiling the oceans. Its consumption is marginal compared to other economic sectors, and most of it comes from renewable sources, making it one of the greenest industries in the world.  Check this article if you still have doubts.

We also know that the mobility and flexibility of Bitcoin miners allow them to help finance green energy production.

Sebastien Gouspillou of BBGS shared his experience of installing Bitcoin miners at hydroelectric stations neighboring the Virunga National Park in Congo. The miners help finance the construction (the machines can be turned on before the cables are installed) and the maintenance of the power plants (the machines can be turned on each time excess electricity appears).

There are already 3 such stations around Virunga and the 4th in construction. The parc exploits them to provide electricity to the neighboring communities (which dispenses them from cutting the virgin forest for wood), as well as gaining some additional revenue, so crucially needed.

This revenue helps the parc to protect its precious wildlife – including the very rare gorillas – from the armed rebels who pose a constant threat.

Moreover, the Virunga example is now being considered by a big number of electricity projects throughout Africa, and Bitcoin mining is increasingly often regarded as a means to finance power plants.

On the European continent, Bitcoin mining advances as well.

Jim from Attakai presented a Bitcoin mining machine that produces almost as much heat waste as an average heater, allowing to mine $BTC while heating our homes.

With electricity prices skyrocketing across Europe, that’s a welcome addition to our bills 💸

Sadly, we cannot replicate here the whole experience of the conference and the adjoining events, with people from all backgrounds incorporating Bitcoin into their lives and their businesses (producing delicious spices sourcing products only in $BTC like SpiceToshi, writing comic books like FractalEncrypt… and many more)

It is always a great joy to encounter so many enthusiasts willing to advance the new world, where independent money enables people to enjoy a whole new level of freedom.

Thanks to Lionel Jeannerat, the organizer of Paradigme Bitcoin, the canton of Neuchâtel is now one of the places for such encounters.