Playa del Carmen, the New Crypto Hub

The small touristic town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is attracting more and more digital nomads and crypto entrepreneurs. Crypto meetups are booming and in May it will host the HODLversity, a three day course for crypto beginners.

My first visit in Playa del Carmen was in February 2018 when I participated in Satoshi Roundtable, a crypto insiders conference, which took place in a resort nearby that year. Then I came back several times to escape the European winter. I always liked the relaxed vibe of Playa del Carmen, which is less fancy than nearby Tulum and much smaller and more walkable than Cancún, the biggest city on the Yucatán pensinsula. Cancún is the nearest airport, with many direct and cheap flights to Europe, South America or the USA.

Things changed drastically when the world got infected by that virus called Coronoia. While governments closed borders and introduced mandatory tests and quarantines all over the world, Mexico has always stayed open. In March 2020 many digital nomads who were travelling the world got stuck here and stayed for a while. We would meet up reguarly and organise ourselves through a chat group called “Covid Family”. The sommer of 2020 I spent in Europe, but when Covid restrictions got worse there in autumn, I decided to go back to Playa – and I was not the only one. Many people from Europe, the USA and Canada have moved here in the last months, at least for some time or maybe forever.

Fifth Avenue, the main pedestrial zone of Playa del Carmen, CC-by Adrián Cerón

There are still lots of tourists who spend just a few weeks in Playa, but the number of “Covid refugees” who are here for a longer time has grown significantly. Most of them were digital nomads before and are now settling down. Nearly everyone runs their own online business and is invested in cryptocurrencies. A lifestyle which in most part of the world is still considered “weird” is totally normal here. As nearly everyone is new in Playa, people are very open to make friends. I have never met so many interesting and like-minded people as in the last six months!

Our first CryptoPlaya meetup in October 2020 with only five people (the privacy conscious fifth took the picture).

In October 2020 I started a monthly meetup for people who are interested in crypto topics. I have organised crypto meetups in Berlin since June 2013, usually with guests I interviewed, and I have always enjoyed that – so why not start something similar in my “new hometown”? To our first meetup only five people showed up, but in our latest ones we were more than 50.

In March we even met up twice, as we had two interesting guests who were in Playa for just one week, first the perpetual traveller Christoph Heuermann, then the libertarian radio host Mark Edge.

Meetup with Cristoph Heuermann, March 2nd, 2021
Meetup with Christoph Heuermann, March 2nd, 2021
Meetup with Mark Edge, March 18th, 2021

We have a found nice restaurant with a separate room for the Q&A part, which lasts for around one hour, then people spread out to have food, drinks and private conversations. The atmosphere of these meetups has always been very inspiring, surely also due to the fact that in many places live meetups are forbidden. More and more people are signing up for our Telegram and Facebook groups and there is even a spin-off, a weekly crypto dinner. Obviously people enjoy meeting up so much that a monthly or bi-weekly rhythm is not enough for them.

After the Q&A session, people like to mingle

Through these meetups I have become friends with Hannah Noethig and Matthias A. Will. Both are entrepreneurs who come originally from Germany, have lived as digital nomads and are now spending some time in Playa. They approached me with the idea to organise a three day crypto course for beginners. I immediately agreed to join, as there is definitely a demand for this and I enjoy organising events. And I couldn’t think of a better place for it than Playa!

The HODLversity core team: Hannah Noethig, Matthias A. Will, yours truly and Denise Valois

We have called it the HODLversity, a rather funny name which combines the crypto meme HODL with “university”. The first day is made for total newbies. You will learn the absolute basics of crypto: how to use a wallet, how to safely store your keys, how to buy and sell cryptocoins etc. If you know all that already, you may skip Day 1 and go directly into the more advanced lessons, in which we will cover investing and trading, DeFi, second layer solutions, NFTs and many other aspects. At the end of the course you will have a good knowledge of the most important aspects of the crypto revolution.

The course will take place from May 20th to 23rd in a hotel at the beach, with an additonal excursion day. You can register here, and if you do it before April 15th, you will get the cheaper early bird price. The whole course will be documented on video, so as a live participant you can book the video package as an addition to revisit every lesson afterwards. And if you cannot make it to Playa del Carmen, you may just book the video course – but you will miss the parties, the beaches, the cenotes and the beautiful people, so I recommend to book the live course!

I suppose that most participants will be expats who live in Playa, but I can also imagine that people will fly here from Europe or the USA to combine the three day course with a vacation in one of the few free countries in the world. And maybe some will stay for good in this new crypto hub.

by Aaron Koenig

P.S: Here is a very good Guide to Playa del Carmen for Digital Nomads by Claire “Itchy Feet” Summers.