Glasgow Store Launches Bitcoin Scheme
A Scottish second-hand exchange store is replacing the pound with virtual currency Bitcoin for three days in one of its stores, making it the first retail outlet in the UK to let customers receive the virtual coins for products.
CeX, the high street chain that buys, sells and exchanges technological and electronic products, is switching from the pound to digital currency Bitcoin exclusively in its store on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.
While using Bitcoin to buy products is becoming increasingly common in stores and online in the UK, CeX will be the first outlet to pay out in the currency, meaning customers can earn the currency for the first time, by selling goods.
David Butler, commercial director at CeX said: "It's really exciting to be at the centre of such an innovative trial. In our store, the staff and customers live and breathe technology so it's only appropriate we looked at Bitcoin as a way for our customers to buy and sell electronic goods. Not only does Bitcoin have a number of security and access benefits, but it is also gaining popularity amongst consumers the world over.
"While we are temporarily dropping the pound from our Glasgow store, at a time when Scottish Independence is high up on the news agenda, we are doing so to give customers a choice in how they trade with us.''
Bitcoin is an entirely virtual currency that works without the need for a central bank, and can be sent over the internet. Coins are transferred directly from person to person, and are kept in a digital wallet that can be accessed on a computer or mobile device. Creating new coins is done through a process called "mining'' where users are rewarded with new coins for verifying transactions that take place.
The process is open source and can therefore be used by anyone, with more and more mainstream businesses now accepting the currency as a form of payment. According to a report by The Why Forum, the number of Bitcoin transactions globally have increased tenfold in the last year, and are now worth more than £40 million.
Several pubs as well as some taxi companies around the UK have begun to accept the currency as a means of paying for goods.
Part of the scheme is designed to highlight the pressing issue of Scottish independence, with the country going to the polls in September to vote on leaving the UK. CeX says this trial will offer an opportunity to show that the country could manage without the pound.
Technology expert and writer Benjamin Cohen said: "Interest and curiosity around peer-to-peer electronic payments and digital currencies is at an all time high because there are compelling benefits for both the merchant and consumer. CeX's introduction is a reflection that the demand is there and also poses the question, do we need cash? CeX is giving its consumers a genuine way to test that theory. I'm eager to see the results of the trial.''
Erik Lorentz, Head of Communications for price analysis site PriceSpy.co.uk, which commissioned a survey on bitcoin in March 2014, said: "After previously conducting research which revealed that over a third of the UK, who were aware of Bitcoin, believe it to be the future of online currency, it is refreshing to see major retailers embracing it.
"We believe it is the anonymity, the modernity and the communities behind it, such as website reddit, that has been integral in powering the success and popularity of the currency. Additionally, the low transaction fees attributed to Bitcoin are a real draw to merchants, in spite of the ever-fluctuating value of the currency.
"Whilst there may still be confusion surrounding the payment method, bringing it to popular retailers will be a valuable learning exercise for consumers and likely demonstrate the power it has to other brands.''