Published February 14, 2014
Bitcoin is a digital currency traded from person to person. It is generated by a computer algorithm, but it is not regulated or affiliated with any country. In the northeast, this currency is taking off bit by bit, and you can buy anything from coffee to a car.
Bitcoin user Neal Conner is selling his car for bitcoin and has purchased other items using the digital currency.
"I’ve purchased beer for bitcoin, books for bitcoin, I just purchased a Sonicare toothbrush and bath towels on overstock.com for bitcoin now that they are accepting it,” Conner says.
In New Hampshire, more service providers than ever are accepting bitcoin, even lawyers. Seth Hipple of Martin & Hipple law firm says bitcoin is bringing him business.
“I have people that have said they are going to keep me in mind because I do accept bitcoin. Obviously people that have bitcoin are vested in the idea of supporting businesses that accept it. Because the more businesses that accept it the more your bitcoin is worth,” he says.
Even political candidates are using the crypto-currency to accept campaign contributions. New Hampshire state representative Mark Warden says bitcoin is a way to connect with younger constituents.
"I think we are going to see a tremendous amount of bitcoin this year in campaigns across the country," he says. "I think it's a great way for politicians to reach out to young people who are adopting this at a much higher rate than some of their parents and grandparents."
Behind bitcoin is a local movement; libertarians and “free staters” in New Hampshire are drawn to bitcoin for its unregulated nature and liquidity.
Although it's growing in popularity, local bitcoin user Mike Vine says there are some people who are still wary of the currency.
"There's a lot of people even in our community that are skeptical of bitcoin and I say to them, if gold were four years old it would be volatile. It's something that's brand new, when the Internet was four years old, it was volatile."
Manchester-based Lamassu has developed the first bitcoin ATM that allows you to deposit dollars into your bitcoin digital wallet. Creator Zach Harvey says it’s the easiest way to exchange dollars for bitcoin.
"We’ve sold 150 of these so far, most of them are going out of the US, I would say about 10-15% are being sold to the US, there are a lot going to Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe,” Harvey says.
Although bitcoin is legal in the U.S., some warn bitcoin’s volatility makes it an unpredictable and unreliable investment. Barbara Anthony, undersecretary of Massachusetts' consumer affairs warns consumers about the unknown dangers of bitcoin.
"You know, this could be the greatest thing since sliced bread," she says. "Right now we don't know and there are too many dangers for consumers, there’s a lot at risk here, it’s your hard earned money. There are other safer alternatives that we have been using right now that I think we should continue to use.”