Bitcoin of the Realm: The Richmond District Becomes a Fiefdom of New Currency

At around 3 p.m. last Tuesday, the going rate for Bitcoin — the unregulated electronic currency with increasing hipster cachet — was about $959, and climbing. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Richmond District-based Internet Archive and staunch Bitcoin promoter, seemed exultant.

Earlier that day, he'd announced that the Internet Archive's new affordable-housing complex, Foundation House, would accept Bitcoin rent payments for its apartments on Clement Street. He'd also managed to get a nearby sushi restaurant and some of his employees on board. (In April, Kahle had offered to pay employee salaries in the high-tech currency, and about one-third of them bit.) The neighborhood was poised to become a small Bitcoin fiefdom, he thought. Well, sort of.

"I keep going into the little sandwich places and asking if they take Bitcoin yet," Kahle says, admitting that it's often a hard sell — few mom-and-pop businesses want to gamble on money that can fluctuate by hundreds of dollars in the course of a few days. Even Kahle, a self-styled Bitcoin evangelist, wishes his currency were a little more stable.

"Volatility works against [its] health as a transaction system," he admits, noting that many people use Bitcoin for short-sales and arbitrage, but it hasn't quite caught on in the retail sphere. The few local landlords who accept it as rent payment act on enthusiasm, rather than reason; it is, after all, a form of money that can evaporate if you reformat your computer.

But Kahle seems indomitably optimistic. "It's still being debugged," he insists. "Let's just try it."

 
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11 comments
Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

Doesn't the Secret Service consider cryptocurrency to be a form of counterfeiting?

Haley Williams
Haley Williams

Have bitcoins to spend? Avoid entering the city of Richmond at all costs.

Jay Yerxa
Jay Yerxa

You spend them and you buy more. It's a wash.

brewsterkahle
brewsterkahle

Thank you Rachel Swan for nice writeup--  pls come to richmond for sushi, and we have a Bitcoin ATM at the Internet Archive.

What other SF restaurants take bitcoin?   Our sushi place is very happy.


Josiah Skallerup
Josiah Skallerup

Why would anyone spend them right now? They just keep going up!

Faith Carroll
Faith Carroll

Jacob Kaliszewski, thought you might be interested.

 
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