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Greetings from Bitcoin Island
By Jeremy Kahn
Monday, September 7, 2015
The Isle of Man is a strange place. Home to four-horned sheep, cats without tails, and perfectly preserved Victorian-era steam locomotives, this rock in the middle of the Irish Sea is perhaps best known for hosting the world's most dangerous motorcycle race, the Manx TT.
It's also a place where, after you take a 70-minute flight from London, a car service called The Lady Chauffeurs will meet you at the airport in a silver Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Imagine my surprise, then, when I'm greeted at arrivals by Keith, who, while courteous, impeccably dressed in a gray suit, and an able driver, is most decidedly not a lady. "All of our regular drivers are busy," says an apologetic Nula Perren, who owns the company and has accompanied Keith to the airport. Not that I mind. I didn't choose The Lady Chauffeurs for its ladies; I booked for the bitcoin.
Lady Chauffeurs is one of a growing number of businesses on the island that accept the digital currency. Bitcoin startups tend to cluster where the venture capital money is: London, New York, San Francisco. Taking on these behemoths might appear to be a stretch for a tiny British protectorate that can seem more time capsule than Tomorrowland. Yet the Manx government is indeed seeking to make the island the world's foremost hub for the technology. Some 25 startups working with digital currencies or the blockchains that underpin them are already based here—and that number is growing steadily. ...
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