Friday, October 31st9.4°C
21625
23883

More Cdn businesses accepting Bitcoin digital currency, despite reservations

MONTREAL - Will that be cash, credit card or Bitcoin?

A small number of Canadian businesses now accept Bitcoin, the digital currency that made its debut five years ago, and has been gaining momentum ever since.

Among the retailers is Quebec bed-and-breakfast operator David Mancini, who expects the payment method will have a practical appeal for foreign tourists visiting his community of Baie-Saint-Paul.

"You do not have to transfer U.S. dollars to Canadian, or pesos, etc.," said Mancini, 30, who runs the Gite TerreCiel.

Bitcoin transactions are seen as more convenient than other forms of payments as they are sent directly and instantly from one person to another, avoiding processing and other fees usually charged by banks or third parties. Travellers can avoid avoid carrying cash, or paying fees on travellers cheques or for currency exchanges, said Mancini.

Mancini has already convinced a handful of other community businesses _ the local coffee shop, hair salon, gift shop, acupuncture clinic and Tai chi martial arts school _ to accept Bitcoin, too.

"So if there's a tourist who comes here, they can spend their whole trip in Bitcoin," Mancini said.

The half-dozen merchants in Baie Saint-Paul are among 143 Canadian businesses accepting the digital currency, according to the Canadian Bitcoin Business Directory.

To use Bitcoins, users must first set up a so-called digital wallet, which gets managed through an app. The transactions involve buyer and seller scanning each others' smartphones to transfer the Bitcoins.

Vancouver saw its first Bitcoin automatic teller machine go live in a downtown Vancouver coffee shop last fall, followed by Toronto and Ottawa. Consumers can exchange Canadian cash for the digital currency at the current exchange rate.

But there remain concerns for the business community, according to researcher David Descoteaux, who recently prepared a report on the currency for the Montreal Economic Institute.

Descoteaux points out is is almost impossible to have any legal recourse in cases of fraud as, once confirmed, transactions are irreversible.

The volatility of the value of Bitcoins, which is not regulated by any central bank, is also an issue. It jumped 50 per cent on Nov. 18 after regulators signalled that digital currencies could be acceptable but plunged 30 per cent on Dec. 5 after China's central bank banned Bitcoins as currency, according to the online exchange Mt.Gox.

Fans of the currency say that because there's a finite supply of 21 million Bitcoins, the currency will continue to appreciate.

But, for businesses, the value of transactions could fluctuate greatly before the Bitcoin transactions are transferred into a hard currency, such as Canadian dollars.

Bitcoin was recently listed at $885 on VirtEx, Canada's virtual exchange to buy and sell Bitcoin.

Descoteaux said businesses are also wary of the tax implications of using Bitcoin, as any sales would have to be declared as income.

The Canada Revenue Agency has said using digital currency must be included in the seller's income for tax purposes and the amount included would be the value of the good or service in Canadian dollars. It also notes that digital currency can also be bought or sold like a commodity and any resulting gains or losses could be taxable income or capital.

As Bitcoin becomes more popular banks and governments are likely to step in and regulate it, Descoteaux said, and there will be more fees as it becomes mainstream.

Montreal company Bokor Renovation has done one transaction with Bitcoin in the "thousands of dollars" and owner Drazen Bokor is eager for more Bitcoin customers.

"The set up was easy," said Bokor. "I don't pay any fees. This is a very fast way to get the money."

Major Canadian online retailer ClearlyContacts.ca has started to accept Bitcoin as payment for the sale of contact lenses and glasses.

CEO and founder Roger Hardy said his company does business in 20 currencies and Bitcoin is now one more.

While it's still a niche form of payment, it's got "global buzz," Hardy said from Vancouver.

The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada makes pitches to businesses and entrepreneurs about the digital currency. Executive director Anthony Di Iorio doesn't see any downside for Bitcoin right now.

"The price will just continue to go up as more and more merchants start accepting it," Di Iorio said from Toronto.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News




Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14613.32+154.63
S&P CDNX769.59-2.06
DJIA17390.52195.10
Nasdaq4630.742+64.604
S&P 5002018.05+23.40
CDN Dollar0.88750.00
Gold1166.30-32.2999
Oil80.55-0.35
Lumber325.70+2.10
Natural Gas3.715+0.066

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.125+0.015
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.18+0.03
Cantex0.045-0.015
Anavex Life Sciences0.185+0.0139
Metalex Ventures0.03-0.005
Russel Metals32.85+0.63
Copper Mountain Mining2.09+0.12
Colorado Resources0.125-0.015
ReliaBrand Inc0.015+0.003
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05+0.025
Mission Ready Services0.39+0.015

 





FEATURED Property
20840721351 Barlett Pl
4 bedrooms 3 baths
$549,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Empty nesting: financial issues

Now that the children have ‘left the nest’, it is a good time to step back and take stock of your financial situation. Being on your own will probably cut household costs to some extent, b...


Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s imp...


What I learned in China

Photo: ContributedI will never be an expert on China. It is just too big, too complex and too old with layers of history and meaning that would take several lifetimes to unravel. As I said to my hosts...

_








Member of BC Press Council


22771