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Taking stock of the bitcoin landscape in Colorado

Some businesses have embraced it, others not so much


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Bitcoin, a global currency and payment network, continues to garner a wealth of media attention. But what impact is it having in Colorado, and what’s its appeal?

Southern Hospitality Restaurant in downtown Denver is among the growing number of Colorado businesses that accept the digital currency directly.

“For us, the business ROI is simple in that it allows us to reduce expenses by avoiding credit card transaction fees,” said Shawn Owen, COO of Southern Concepts, the parent company of Southern Hospitality, which began accepting bitcoin in May 2014. ”Because it’s essentially a digital form of cash, our reconciliation process at the end of the evening becomes a breeze. The money immediately hits our bank account, making for a more efficient form of accounting than walking it down to the bank.”

Owen is encouraged by the appeal among digital currency enthusiasts, particularly members of the Colorado Bitcoin Society who hold meetings at the restaurant regularly and pay with bitcoin. But while this payment transaction method has meshed well with Southern Hospitality’s full-service model, Owen elected not to integrate it at Carve, Southern Concept’s newest Denver-area restaurant, in Glendale.

“Bitcoin’s payment processing doesn’t really translate to a fast-casual, take-and-go model as of yet,” Owen said. “We’re looking forward to the day when terminals that offer a faster checkout experience become available.”  

Others that accept bitcoin include IconLasik, Dish Network and Amante Coffee in Boulder. Scores of national brands with a presence in the state accept it indirectly via Gyft.com, including Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret. Consumers can  also receive 20 percent off at Starbucks and 10 percent off at Target by using bitcoin through a mobile app called Airbitz. cb

Bitcoin by the numbers

Jan. 3, 2009

Bitcoin network officially launched through its founder, Satoshi Nakamoto

$372.14

Bitcoin market price (in U.S. dollars) on Feb. 8, 2016.

$1,242.00

All-time bitcoin market price high, set on Nov. 29, 2013.

15 million

Approximate number of bitcoins currently in circulation for use globally, according to blockchain.info, a bitcoin wallet and explorer service

100,000

Approximate number of businesses accepting bitcoin worldwide, according to industry figures compiled by bitcoin payment processor BitPay (February 2015)

11

Number of bitcoin ATMs in Colorado (according to stats compiled by CoinATM Radar and the Denver Bitcoin Center)

21 million

Total number of bitcoins that will ever be released (the number of new bitcoins created each year is automatically halved over time, halting at 21 million around the year 2050 when all bitcoins are projected to be in circulation

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