Some small business owners using Bitcoins aren’t too worried about the digital currency’s rise and fall this week.
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Here are four entrepreneurs who say the software transactions are good for business.
Stomp Romp Guitars, Manchester, NH Stomp Romp Guitar owner Zach Harvey came across Bitcoin when he was researching an idea he had for a bartering system. He says he appreciated the idea of having full control of your money, as he never liked the fact that in Israel, where he grew up, the city could freeze accounts based on unpaid bills.
So, in 2011, when Harvey decided to move his guitar store from Tel Aviv to New Hampshire, he decided to start accepting Bitcoins.
“We’ve sold small things like strings and pedals for Bitcoins, but it’s already growing. You can feel it, and orders are dripping in,” says Harvey.
One plus? Harvey says paying with Bitcoins is even quicker than paying with PayPal or credit cards, as the payments are processed within seconds. Harvey and his brother have become so interested in the Bitcoin community that they’re actually developing the first Bitcoin ATM.
“It’s a compact desktop device, and you’ll insert US dollars or Euros or Canadian dollars. The device will tell you the price of a Bitcoin, and then you just scan your phone, and you’ll immediately have Bitcoins,” says Harvey.
Firehouse BBQ, Salt Lake City, UT “I mine Bitcoins too, so it was a natural thing to accept them,” says Firehouse BBQ owner Tornado T. Westlund. Before barbecue became his calling, Westlund used to work in technology developing smart cards (similar to SIM cards), and he’s been interested in online currencies for years now.
“Not that many people know about Bitcoins yet,” says Westlund. But he estimates that he’s had around ten customers pay for barbecue using Bitcoins.
Café Berlin, Las Vegas, NV Café Berlin actually decided to accept Bitcoins based on a customer’s request.
"Four or six weeks ago, a guy came in here and explained Bitcoins to us, and asked if we were interested in letting customers pay with them,” says Karina Bechtold, owner of the German transplant to Sin City.
Each week, she says a group comes in and meets for lunch – about eight to ten people – and they all pay with Bitcoins.
“They pay over the phone and send me Bitcoins, and then if we need the money we’ll transfer it into cash immediately,” says Bechtold.
Grasshill Alpacas, Haydenville, MA Alpaca farmer David Forster describes himself as a “self-taught economist” who started hearing about Bitcoins in 2011.
“I wanted to get involved, but didn’t trust anyone enough to send an envelope of cash to get a Bitcoin, so I decided to sell socks in exchange for Bitcoins,” says Forster. Forster says that he is the first merchant to sell a product for Bitcoins.
“Bitcoin sales were a third of our sales last year for alpaca socks,” says Forster, whose socks sell for $20. “It makes international transactions as easy as interacting with your neighbor, so we’ve sold socks to dozens of countries in Europe.”
Another plus? Forster says Bitcoins don’t have the high transaction costs that come with credit cards.