Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom
Sheri Visker of Jonesville Point Marina with her Bitcoin wallet.

The Bay Islands are the Bitcoin Pioneers in Honduras

Turtle Grass Marina in Calabash Bight might not have a road, but they are a decade ahead of other places accepting payments in Lempiras, Dollars, by credit card and… in Bitcoin. The east end of the island, with its large sailor community, has become a small bastion of Bitcoin users. Five places accept Bitcoin in the Bay Islands: three on Roatan and two on Utila. This is perfect timing since in January 2018 the Honduran Central Bank declared that in Honduras crypto currencies are not regulated and opportunities for doing business in crypto currencies are wide open.

There are over 14,100 places all over the world that’s accept Bitcoin as payment – all tracked on-line. While Guatemala City, Managua, and San Salvador are all small hubs of Bitcoin activity, San Pedro Sula has only one location accepting Bitcoin and the Bay Islands have four.

“I knew about Bitcoin back in 2009. I embraced it immediately,” says John Willms a Canadian who is “looking after” Turtle Grass Marina in Calabash Bight while his friends take a break in the US. Back in 2017, only one transaction was done in Bitcoin- it was a purchase of a pizza. “Wallet-ed [cryptocurrency] transactions took 10-15 seconds. Perfect,” says John. The opportunity to spend some Satoshis or Bitcoin presented itself on Thursday and Saturday pizza days and that is when the Turtle Grass Marina gets really busy: 1 pm till closing to be exact.

They treat us like kings and queens

Willms, not only accepts Bitcoin, but also supports businesses that take Bitcoin. “When we go to Utila we use Ecomarine because they accept Bitcoin,” says John. “They treat us like kings and queens because of that.” Gunther’s Ecomarine dive shop and another small hotel accept Bitcoin as payment on Utila. “[Bitcoin] is just another way of paying, and the money emitted by central banks… well they are just a bunch of crooks,” saysWillms.

Sometimes it is Bitcoin that finds Roatan not other way around. Three years ago the president of the microstate of Liberland was visiting a friend on Roatan and run up a bill in the Jonesville Point Marina. “He offered to pay the $120 in Bitcoin and said I can set up a wallet in seconds,” remembers Sheri Visker, manager of the marina. Her Bitcoin customer was VitJedlička, a Czech activist and politician who founded the river island country of “Free Republic of Liberland” on an unclaimed river island between Serbia and Croatia in 2015. “President” Jedlička took a liking to land on Roatan and has made several visits here looking to buy property here… in Bitcoin. One thing still missing is the Bitcoin sale sticker next to Diners Club, Visa and AMEX stickers prominently displayed at the Marina’s bar. “It’s hard to get the sticker off,” explainsVisker. “Both my sons got into Bitcoin early. I think it’s a good investment.”

Pizza and a place to stay are not the only things a few Bitcoins will buy you on Roatan. Roatan Real Estate deals in Bitcoin are in the making. Currently a home in Pristine Bay, a lot at Lawson Rock, and an estate in Sandy Bay are all offered for sale in Bitcoin.

In 2015 the Honduran government had conversations with US based Epigraph company to develop “a permanent and secure land title record system” using the Bitcoin block chain. Mismanagement and corruption of land records in Honduras has caused many conflicts over property rights. Over 80 percent of land titles accumulated over two centuries are either untitled or improperly titled. The deal was called off, however, as not even the most sophisticated blockchain could handle this Honduran land record mess.

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