Bitcoin breakthrough: Edmonton cafe now accepting the cyber-currency
Daniel Reid, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:12AM EDT
An Edmonton retailer is taking a bold cyber step forward, becoming what is believed to be the first bricks and mortar business in Alberta to allow customers to pay for purchases with Bitcoin, a virtual currency growing in popularity despite its wild swings in value.
Coffee house Remedy Cafe started accepting Bitcoins on Friday.
“The feedback is very positive," owner Zee Zaidi told CTV Edmonton. “It's a little hard for me to do accounting, but we'll figure all that out.”
But for customers who are using it, it’s just simpler than other traditional methods of payment.
"It's very convenient, very fast and you don't have to carry money around with you," Bitcoin-user Bryce Belseth told CTV Edmonton.
In order to use Bitcoins to purchase a product, Belseth uses his smartphone to scan a QR code on the cafe's tablet.
Since the value of the currency constantly fluctuates, a Bitcoin’s value is determined at the point of purchase and can be divided down to eight decimal places. The smallest amount that can be handled in a transaction is 0.00000001 BTC, an amount known as a “satoshi.”
For retailers, it’s just one more option for consumers, according to café customer and self-proclaimed Bitcoin evangelist Peter Dushenski.
“The point is to have a digital currency that you can use anywhere in the world with very little transaction costs,” Dushenski said. “It’s starting to get really big in countries where they are having problems with their currencies and their banking systems.
“It does sound a bit crazy, but so did email,” he added.
Many retailers that accept Bitcoin don’t actually keep the currency – they simply convert it back into cash through a third-party processor. American-based BitPay, for example, handles Bitcoin transactions for more than 4,500 companies, taking payments and forwarding the cash equivalent to vendors.
Though it isn’t backed by gold or a financial institution, Bitcoin has been inching towards broader acceptance since its inception in 2009 as an alternate to traditional forms of currency.
Bitcoin was invented by an anonymous programmer and is independent of any central authority.
About a year ago, Bitcoins were going for just $5 each. The currency’s value closed at a price of $108 on Tuesday.
The value of a Bitcoin is determined by the number in circulation.
The total supply is supposed to be capped at around 21 million. There are currently about 11 million in circulation.
But the currency, which has no set value, remains relatively controversial.
On Tuesday, Bitcoin suspended trading in Thailand after officials declared it illegal.
Bitcoins can be purchased through the Canadian Virtual Exchange.
With a report from CTV Edmonton's Laura Lowe