Shambala Festival continues to push boundaries and explore positive futures as it becomes the first UK festival to accept Bitcoin payments for tickets and other merchandise. Tickets and other products are now available via the website and online shop.

Why are we providing the option to buy in Bitcoin?

Shambala’s adventures in Utopia has been a continuous search for the fun, positive and purposeful and we have always explored better, alternative models of community and society.

Bitcoin is radically different from existing systems of exchange. It is the first digital peer-to-peer currency, decentralised and anonymous (to a point). Furthermore, emerging tech developments may offer an opportunity to explore new forms of exchange which do not rely upon traditional modes and measures of ‘value’ (e.g. gold standards and fiat economies, where there is inherent value and benefit in accumulation).

We are not suggesting that Bitcoin = Utopia. It’s not perfect by any means. We do feel, however, that digital currencies (and block-chains) are a game changer and it’s certainly a huge opportunity for discussion. It may also be a chance to reassess value, take back more personal control in exchange, increase privacy, reduce economic gatekeeping, help erode the huge inequalities in wealth that exist and start to level the financial playing field.

Why should we all consider entering an alternate (digital) economy?

We may just have a dream… but where does value come from? Fundamentally, it’s about demand (or need) to engage in any given system. It may seem poles apart to compare something we can easily see as having intrinsic value (i.e. gold) and an abstract non physical digital economy, but there is a network effect and a potential for a strengthening community base.

In the UK we currently have to exchange for most things with £GBP within the nation state boundary and via its systems and banks. If we want to buy from other parts of the world we have to exchange and use other currencies. If you think about it, it’s very cumbersome, always at a cost to the individual and profit of others.

There are of course many different push and pull factors for people to engage in an exchange system, but choice should exist. Digital economies are already providing a lot of choice. At the beginning of this year, over 700 digital crypto-currencies had already been developed following the first open source release of the Bitcoin protocol in 2009 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.

New ideas include those with philanthropic drivers such as Carbon Coin, designed “to fund the planting of millions of trees worldwide to address the problem of soaring emissions”. Who knows? In the future, communities of the like-minded, or those who are simply regularly in contact through exchanges, may drive new models.

There have been many different systems of exchange and value over the millennia, first base for this debate has to be an acceptance that we do not have to be, and are very unlikely to be, stuck in our current systems forever. More direct barter economies have existed before, but just maybe, new digital currencies and block-chain could shake up personal economy and exchange, what the internet did for knowledge (and power).

If it was more direct, peer-to-peer and not based upon intermediarys of exchange that can be easily controlled, hoarded and profiteered,  it could be intrinsicly more free and fair. It requires a giant step in perception, but seeing digital exchange as a ‘memory’ rather than a value in terms of a promise to gold, or perceiving Bitcoin as a value in terms of the £GBP or $USD price, also opens an interesting and exciting debate.

These ideas can be seen as disruptive to financial stability and nation-states but the genie is, to a certain extent, already out of the bottle. The challenge is to engage in this debate, to look forward to change and to realise better, fairer ways of doing things in these hugely transformative times.

It’s not all about the money! Just maybe in the future you could exchange a favour within our global community for a plate of fine food at a festival near you!