Grooving to the tune of ‘Dum Maaro Dum’, two Englishmen sat at the first digital currency café in Britain and sipped chai as they reminisced times spent in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“I remember as a teenage boy I went to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. In fact, I celebrated my 19th birthday in Srinagar. One thing I really enjoy is dhabha chai,” said Richard Gregory. Sitting next to him with a cup of masala chai, Joylon added, “This very colourful desi place was set up over the past few months in our neighbourhood. We’d been wanting to check it out but we did not know they accept cryptocurrency.”
Close to BBC Television Centre and a famous shopping mall in London, this café, called Chai Ada, makes itself visible even from afar. With walls adorned with the colourful motifs found on trucks and buses in Pakistan and colourful umbrellas hung upside down from the roof, the café makes grey and cold London feel vibrant.
Chai Ada is the brainchild of 26-year-old Tayyab Shafiq who studied mechanical engineering.
“Being a mechanical engineer, which is linked to technology and innovation, and having grown up in a business family plus being a big foodie myself, I wanted to integrate all of these into one. And Chai Ada crypto café is something that fulfils all of this,” Tayyab Shafiq told India Today.
Chai Ada serves Kashmiri pink tea, masala chai, biryani and vada pav among many other things and accepts payment in cash, cards and cryptocurrency from any wallet. The café has developed an app to take payments in cryptocurrency.
“In order to minimise gas fees and transactional fees of big coins, we are offering our clients the option to pay in Ripple, Litecoin and Doge,” said Tayyab Shafiq.
Rana, who looks after operations at the café, explained, “It’s as simple as making a quick transfer over the phone from your crypto wallet to ours.”
A young girl who was buying tea at the café said she had a crypto account but decided to pay with it next time. People seem to be coming to the concept gradually.
Rana told IndiaToday that people are making use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are like trading cards with unique codes that allow a person to buy their own virtual asset like digital art from the café. “Soon you will find this same architecture, umbrellas, etc in the Metaverse where you can have virtual meetings. So, it’s like sitting in Chai Ada but virtually,” said Rana.
According to Tayyab Shafiq, the future belongs to digital currency. He said, “The future is certainly about digital currency due to its decentralised nature. And I am quite sure that more than a want, it will be the need of the world. You’ll see various brands and outlets taking it in in the near future.”