Over the last week, two major Bitcoin exchanges – Mt. Gox and Bitstamp – announced that they would be halting all Bitcoin withdrawals indefinitely. This caused the value of Bitcoin to stagger down to $644. These developments however do not seem to deter the increasing number of merchants, retailers and people beginning to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. The latest members are - ‘The Pizza Guys’ – the first in Dubai to accept Bitcoin payments.
The Business Bay shop in Dubai has carried out two transactions in five days with Bitcoin since adding it along side cash payment and credit card systems. “Right now it’s extremely volatile so people are unwilling to adopt it but I think the more people that adopt it the more likely it will be feasible to use. Our approach is that right now the volumes will be at a level that we can absorb the risk ourselves,” said founder Rami Badawi.
“We don’t anticipate an overwhelming number of people paying with bitcoin but if it does get to that point – we’ve set a daily limit – we’d have to look at alternatives, maybe pricing bitcoin instead of converting from bitcoin to dirhams,” he added. The daily limit has been set at $272 (around 1000 AED). Badawi does not expect to reach that limit anytime soon however. He is collecting the Bitcoins received as payments to see where it goes in the future.
“I do believe in bitcoin and I think when people stop and think about it, any currency these days gets its value from someone – the government - who says what it’s value is. You won’t see that if bitcoin becomes widely accepted. It’ll be much more stable,” said Badawi. “I do, in a philosophical level, believed in it. I think the unlimited printing of money is dangerous; this is a step towards addressing that.”
Recently, the university of Cumbria announced that it was the first UK institution to accept Bitcoin. The virtual currency is now accepted as a method of payment for two courses offered by the institution. "We believe in learning by doing, and so to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialling the acceptance of Bitcoins. Some support Bitcoin due to its speed and cost, others due the new era of financial freedom it could enable," said Jem Bendell, Founder, Cumbria's new Institute for Leadership and Sustainability. "Others are concerned about it and how it will affect economies and society. Others think that what comes next will be even more important. We think it is essential to become better informed, and analyse it from many different perspectives.” The system in operation at Cumbria is once again Bitpay.