RENO, NV - The U.S. Government says it's a volatile and de-centralized currency, so why are more and more Reno businesses starting to accept bitcoin? It's a currency that started back in 2009 for online transactions, but since catching on with its tech-savy users, certain merchants have started to accept bitcoin in place of cash.
It's really a look into the future of payment. When you want to buy a pizza at Lamppost in the South Meadows, you now have the option to just whip out your smartphone and instantly transfer funds.
It's one of 6 businesses in town now accepting the currency.
"I have always been interested in technology so it is a natural progression," said Jay Watson, owner of Lamppost Pizza.
Watson has been dabbling in bitcoin for about a year, but last week he made a commitment to the digital wallet. His business started accepting bitcoin as payment.
"They scan that QR code... and they hit send," said Watson.
The price of a pizza doesn't change when a customer uses the online currency; an app converts the U.S. dollar cost to bitcoin and a payment is made instantly.
"I don't necessarily see it as a replacement for credit cards is see it as an enhancement or just another option," said Watson.
Not all people are eager to try bitcoin because the market is very volatile. In April of 2011, 1 bitcoin was worth 1 dollar. Fast forward to January of this year; they were worth $1000. Seems great, but in the last 3 months the value has dropped to $400 a coin.
"With my merchant account, what we do is we accept the bitcoin and then the next day, it's converted into U.S. dollars and put into my bank account so I am only subject to one day of volatility," said Watson.
But the high-risk, high-reward factor is part of what drew barber Josh Arias to start accepting bitcoin.
"I have pulled enough out of bitcoin to make it well worth my while to have invested in bitcoin," said Arias.
Josh was one of the earlier adopters in Reno. He started accepting payments back in September when he was approached by client Jay Yerxa.
"I think as bitcoin itself gains more popularity, goes a little bit more mainstream, you'll see more businesses wanted to get involved," said Yerxa, who is a Reno expert of bitcoin.
Yerxa invests in the currency himself, but he tries to spread its use throughout Reno as well.
"The challenge is who is going to your business the volume of customers that are going to go to your business and pay with bitcoin," said Yerxa.
Business owners find this new form of payment attractive because it is cheaper for them. Credit card companies usually charge two to three percent per transaction, bitcoin charges less than 1 percent.
Currently; Lamppost Pizza, barber Josh Arias, Red Rock Bar, software companies Storm 5 and No-IP.com, Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality all accept bitcoin.