A Glasgow branch of second hand retailer CeX today became the first brick and mortar store in Britain to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. The Sauchiehall St branch sees the retailer bin the pound and become a Bitcoin only zone for three days starting today.
Bitcoin is the world’s most prominent digital currency with popularity exploding, particularly within the last year. A virtual currency, powered independently by its users without a central authority such as a bank or government – bitcoin has already garnered recognition by online retailers but this is the first example of it penetrating the high street.
Users can buy, trade or sell bitcoins as well as using a method called “mining” to slowly make their own fortune. Other than complete user control, attractiveness of such a payment method includes the ability to quickly and securely make payments from a mobile device without need for cash or bank account whilst avoiding any potential transaction fees. Rapid appreciation of the value of the currency is making it particularly appealing to people looking to make a quick profit in such gloomy economic times.
So is this something all shops around Glasgow will be adopting in the near future? I don’t doubt that some virtual currency will eventually gain enough momentum to force widespread acceptance, this however is a long way off and certainly not a viable replacement for Sterling in its current form. However, I am sure with Scottish Independence and the debate over the future of the pound in Scotland dominating the news, CeX are more than happy to be getting attention from what feels like a clever publicity stunt.