The history between Bitcoin and Pizza is a long and harmonious one – what’s not to love in the combination between the hardest money humankind has known to date and a juicy, crispy Pizza in Neapolitan style served fresh out of a wood-fired oven?
While in more recent times an increasing amount of “hardcore Bitcoiners” turned to the “Bitcoin carnivore” diet and reject any amount of bread/potatoes/rice or other plant-based foods – it is well-known part of Bitcoin’s history that early adopter Laszlo Hanyecz answered the question of his personal hierarchy of needs confronted by the question to decide between 10,000 Bitcoins and 2 luscious wood-baked Pizza’s with “I take the two Pizza’s please!”. And who wouldn’t honestly when the aroma of a well-baked, crispy pizza loaded with sun-ripened tomatoes and affectionately hand- and homemade burrata cheese melting on its top is rising in your nostrils, tingles your olfactory senses and makes your mouth watering uncontrollably? A true test of loyalty for even the most committed HODLers.
Also in Vietnam a local Pizza store has written plenty of the domestic Bitcoin history. That place is called “Italiani’s” and specializes in “beautifully crafted individual wood fired Neapolitan pizzas and Italian-inspired dishes from traditions that are well over 200 years old”.
Owned and run by the two young Vietnamese entrepreneurs Kevin (Hung) Bui and Ariel (Nguyen) Le and in operation since 2016 it has not only been the location of choice to host Vietnam’s very first Bitcoin ATM, but also saw countless meetup of the local Bitcoin Saigon Community including one this summer which saw the first ever Lightning Payment made for physical goods in Vietnam.
How all of this came together – Ariel (Nguyen) is thankfully diving deeper with us!
BVN: Hi Ariel! First things first: Congratulations to your ongoing success with Italiani’s which in a very competitive marketplace saw you guys not only surviving, but thriving.
You are about to open your third location at the end of this year in HCMC. What’s the secret behind your & Kevin’s success?
Ariel: The biggest secret lies in the crust. It makes or breaks a pizza, and there is no substitute for a traditional Italian dough. Besides that, everything else depends on finding great team members. That has always been our biggest challenge, and it continues to be.
We try to ensure our team has what they need and they are happy with the working environment, as opposed to just trying to do their job every day. Many businesses consider the customer is No.1, but while customers are extremely important, our team members are everything.
BVN: Now, we are here today to find out more about Italiani’s close connection with Bitcoin in Vietnam. Can you tell us when you first heard about Bitcoin and what your initial thoughts were?
Ariel: I first heard about it through a friend. My initial impression was that it was super cool, but it will never become popular (lol).
BVN: Italiani’s has been hosting Vietnam’s very first Bitcoin ATM since 2016; but not only that – also in your second location you are hosting a Bitcoin ATM together with a poster above the machine reminding about the historic connection of Bitcoin & Pizza with Laszlo’s purchase.
Besides the transaction fee cut you are most likely receiving – what do you perceive as the biggest upsides for a restaurateur in hosting a Bitcoin ATM?
Ariel: As one of the few places in Vietnam hosting a Bitcoin ATM, we do have a lot of people coming to our restaurant just to check out or use the Bitcoin ATM. Once they come in, normally they cannot resist the smell & temptations of our wood-fired pizza and end up ordering for themselves. Quite a few of our loyal customers are initially just Bitcoin users.
BVN: While in Vietnam the regulations around electronic payments and especially payments via cryptocurrencies are rather convoluted and restrictive – what is your take on Bitcoin as payment method for merchants?
We assume the fact that no charge backs can be levied upon the merchant as well being safe against the ailments of dealing with cash (counterfeit notes; risk of physical theft etc.) might provide quite an incentive for merchants to expand their payment options to allow for payments via Cryptocurrencies?
Ariel: As a merchant, the importance of offering a good range of different payment options cannot be understated. Accepting bitcoin as a means of payment will give merchants access to new customers and help to boost profits. It is a win-win situation that no merchant should ignore.
However, in order to encourage more merchants to use it, we need to raise more awareness or offer some incentives. The more payment methods we have, the more staff training needed and it is more difficult to monitor all kinds of money streams as well. But if the demand from customers is strong enough, more merchants will allow it.
BVN: Are you nowadays a committed HODLer yourself?
Ariel: You can say so. I don’t have a lot, so I just save it for my future kid (lol).
BVN: What’s up next for Italiani’s and yourself?
Ariel: Restaurant three is hopefully going to happen in 2020. We want to grow steadily and strongly. We look forward to continuing to serve the best foods and provide good times that will give our customers long-lasting smiles and great memories.