The state motto of New Hampshire is “Live free or die.” That has been the bedrock of the state’s ethos for hundreds of years, as solid as the granite that gives the state its nickname.

So when you have even a local radio station in Keene, N.H., advertising local stores that accept bitcoin (BTC) between playing classic rock standards, it’s all of a piece.

“Because it’s decentralized and not controlled by the banks or politicians, bitcoin saves you money,” the ad says.

New Hampshire has long attracted people with a passion for independence, including several cryptocurrency developers.

And tells you all you need to know about New Hampshire. Political battles come and go but when it comes to cryptocurrency acceptance, the libertarians win, at least in some places.

One map lists 19 businesses accepting cryptocurrency in Keene, the Granite State’s sixth-largest city, including an Indian restaurant, a BBQ joint and a vape shop. There’s also a crypto vending machine and a bitcoin ATM. Because Keene has a population of 23,000, local proponents argue it has the highest number of crypto-friendly retail establishments per capita anywhere.

As is the case in larger cities where bitcoin is used, Keene’s crypto-accepting businesses acknowledge that payments in bitcoin or dash (DASH) represent only a small fraction of total sales. And while one prospective member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce asked if membership dues could be paid in bitcoin, most of the organization’s small businesses aren’t focusing on crypto.

“I think it is still a very small group of people who use and understand this type of payment,” a Chamber spokesperson tells ThirtyK.

A Presence in Town

New Hampshire has long attracted people with a passion for independence. The Free State Project and the Shire Society are among organizations encouraging like-minded individuals — so-called “liberty migrants“ — to move to the state. The state is also home to crypto developers, including Anypay Global, a point-of-sale solution that has helped enable retail adoption.

The Corner News became the first Keene business to accept bitcoin back in 2013, but libertarian-minded groups played a key role in making the Monadnock region a crypto hotspot. The Shire’s Free Church set up the area’s first bitcoin vending machine, using some of the revenue generated from exchange fees to pay for point-of-sale software and window stickers for local retailers accepting bitcoin — as well as the radio ads.

Today, the Monadnock Decentralized Currency Network holds regular meetups and has more than 100 members. Early retailers who adopted crypto have been joined by service providers: a car repair shop, hair salon and, in July, a local dentist.

“For digital coin to become useful in everyday life, people need to be able to use it as currency, for something besides speculative investing,” Dr. Sean P. Drower told the Keene Sentinel.

Real-World Revenue

Keene’s retailers aren’t likely to abandon fiat currency anytime soon, however. A crypto-friendly barbecue restaurant told the Sentinel that bitcoin represented less than 3 percent of sales. But, backers say, that’s hardly the point.

Crypto can help small business owners, like the purveyors of a Keene Indian restaurant, send money abroad more easily, argues Ian Freeman, a local blogger and state senate candidate. “One of the really cool things about living in a place with a high concentration of crypto-accepting merchants is there’s a business-to-business crypto economy already developing,” Freeman adds in a blog post. “Business owners who are accepting crypto are finding ways to spend it with other crypto-accepting Monadnock businesses. For instance, one local business owner is currently ordering a shed from Route 101 Local Goods with her crypto she’s been saving up.”

Other retailers say offering crypto is just good customer service. Steven Wilder’s auto repair shop has about a dozen regular customers who pay using crypto and he admits he doesn’t “know a ton” about its logistics. But Wilder told the Sentinel that accepting crypto is “just like accepting credit cards.”

Mark Toner
Mark Toner is a Washington, D.C., writer and editor. He has covered business, technology, media, education, and healthcare for a wide range of trade and industry publications.