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Hackney Central pub puts itself at forefront of virtual money

PUBLISHED: 09:39 05 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:39 05 July 2013

Stephen Early, left, and Vitaly Pavlovski at The Pembury Tavern, of Amhurst Road, the first pub in the country to introduce the bitcoin payment method.

Stephen Early, left, and Vitaly Pavlovski at The Pembury Tavern, of Amhurst Road, the first pub in the country to introduce the bitcoin payment method.

Archant

A pub believes it has become the first in the country to accept a revolutionary new virtual currency.

The Pembury Tavern in Amhurst Road, Hackney Central, accepted its first sale paid with bitcoins last month – and people from as far afield as the USA have since popped into the boozer to spend their cyber cash.

Bitcoins can be used to pay for goods and are primarily used online with a small number of businesses – mainly in Berlin – accepting them.

The owner of Pembury Tavern, Stephen Early, 29, first became interested in the idea in 2010.

He said: “I know there are people out there who have bought bitcoins but then don’t have anything to do with them.

“So I thought why not give them the option of buying things at the pub?”

He said the move had proved popular, with dozens of people popping in to spend the virtual currency.

“It’s been really popular. I’ve taken £1,500 worth of transactions over the last few weeks.

“The clientele ranges from young enthusiasts and media students doing projects on bitcoins, to older people who are curious.

“A big group of men who are part of a bitcoin meet-up group popped in last week.

“We’ve even had people from the US who are visiting London come in to the pub to use their bitcoins. The great thing is, they don’t have to go to a currency exchange.”

In order to pay for drinks or food at the pub with bitcoins, customers just scan the bill code with an application on their mobile phone or lap-top.

Mr Early said it has been a “bit of a learning experience”.

“It works better if you have your coins on your mobile phone, rather than on your lap-top”, he said. “We do discourage lap-tops at the bar.”

“It’s been busier than I expected it to be,” he said. “If it’s just novelty value and it drops off after a while, I won’t be too bothered.

“I’ll be interested to see which way it goes. We pay the bank 80 pence for every £100 we pay in and we pay charges on credit cards.

“This does not cost me any-thing. The risks are that the exchange rate drops or rises. I’ve just about broken even on it.

“I think it will take off slowly. The appeal is with tech-savvy people and all the start-ups in Old Street.”


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