A panoramic cityscape fills the screen: Ljubljana, Slovenia's capitol. The view cuts to a gray sidewalk where a Slovenian man rides into view on his skateboard, techno music announcing his entrance. He glides down the street, flips his skateboard into his hand and jaunts into one of the 500 shops of Ljubljana's famed Bitcoin City™, a haven where crypto-lovers come for shopping, entertainment, sports, and business. At the checkout counter, he whips out his smartphone and fires up his Elipay app. Which cryptocurrency will he use to pay for his sleek new shoes? Bitcoin? Ether? Bitcoin Cash? ELI token?
Elipay reports that it has grown since its initial launch in October 2018 and is now accepted at 240 stores across Slovenia. It boasts a variety of features like instant payments with select cryptocurrencies, free transfers between Elipay users worldwide, and a universal loyalty program that rewards 2 percent "tokenback" in ELI tokens for every purchase. Now, Eligma – the developer of the Elipay app and the Bitcoin City™ – has plans to make Elipay more accessible to fiat buyers by integrating credit and debit cards into the app.
Eligma hopes to entice fiat users to start using crypto with the incentives offered by the Elipay Universal Loyalty Program. With the 2 percent reward of ELI tokens for each purchase, the company claims fiat users can start to use cryptocurrency in stores without needing to know anything about crypto in general. Eligma Blog writes:
"In this way, the advantages of blockchain will make one further step into daily consumer life while offering security and saving time. This is also in line with Eligma's membership in Blockchain Alliance Europe, founded in Slovenia and dedicated to furthering blockchain development and awareness at the international level."
The public-facing Bitcoin City™ is just part of a larger move by this small central European country to position itself as a major player in blockchain technology. In October 2017, the Slovenia Digital Coalition established a "Blockchain Think Tank" to focus on education, raising awareness, and drafting legislation proposals and solutions. At that time, the Slovenian prime minister, Miro Cerar, expressed hope that blockchain tech would be an integral part of Slovenia's recovery from its recent fiscal crisis: "We have emerged from the crisis stronger. I believe that using blockchain technology, you too will contribute to the writing of a new Slovenian success story."
The think tank is the first of three major "pillars" of the blockchain in Slovenia. Its purpose is to be an open space where individuals, organizations, and commercial and state bodies can collaborate and share information. The second pillar involves the development of policy and legislation, as well as coordination for blockchain-related activities through the Slovenia Land of Startups initiative. The third pillar is the Noordung Blockchain Hub, which focuses on developing business models and projects for the blockchain environment in Slovenia in coordination with the Herman Potočnik Noordung Space Centre.
If the country can pull it off, that certainly would be a good success story. Maybe it will even use Elipay to pay for it.