Top Stories


    Apr 25, 2014

    Artisan businesses hop on bitcoin bandwagon

    NOT only can you buy food and drinks with bitcoins, but you can now also use them to shop for a leather bag or jewellery.

    At least three home-grown craft businesses are accepting the digital currency, in a nod to the growing popularity of this alternative mode of electronic transaction.

    At the moment, bitcoin merchants here are largely restaurants, cafes and bars. Bitcoin users pay by simply using their smartphones to scan a QR code from their bitcoin wallet app.

    The transaction fees are lower, and other benefits include cutting out the middlemen who skim off the profits, business owners told My Paper.

    Mr Aaron Issac, who owns 3D printing jewellery label Polychemy, said he prefers this payment mode to relying on e-commerce giant PayPal, which charges about 3 per cent per sale.

    "This might not seem like a lot, but if we sell hundreds of pieces of jewellery a week, it could add up to a considerable sum," said Mr Issac, 25, who started accepting bitcoin a month ago.

    Agreeing, Ms Rozeryna Rothman, who co-founded leathercrafts firm Forest Child, said she likes the convenience - she can deposit the virtual coins in the bitcoin wallet within minutes.

    Since the first two bitcoin automated teller machines (ATMs) were launched in February this year, six more have been set up.

    While Ms Rothman is aware of the risks that come with using bitcoin, she said that as she is new to the technology, she feels there is "nothing to lose".

    All the same, Mr Issac said one must be "quite tech-savvy" when using bitcoin.

    "If you don't know what you are doing, there's always the possibility of getting cheated or your wallet hacked."

    Both Polychemy and Forest Child, along with handmade bags enterprise LatitudeOneDegree, will take bitcoin for their products tomorrow at the Lowercase Cafe in the Lasalle College of Arts.

    They will be a part of Rise: Bitcoin, an open-source social and community event aimed at introducing bitcoin to the public. The first edition was held in Hong Kong last month.

    Organiser Tomas Forgac said the event, which will feature talks on topics such as bitcoin security, has been tailored to familiarise new users with the crypto-currency.

    "It also serves as an open platform for bitcoin-related companies to introduce themselves and their services to the community," added Mr Forgac, who founded a bitcoin point-of-sales (POS) payment system called Coin Of Sale.

    Bitcoin enthusiast Teo Chen Shien, 25, is happy to see additional avenues for spending his "coins".

    "Hopefully, even taxi companies will turn to bitcoin, what with their aversion to Visa," he said. From next week, Visa cards will no longer be accepted in local taxis, after discussions on surcharges broke down.