There are six businesses in Sydney that accept Bitcoins in payment.
- Patcht – Online custom clothing brand based in Sydney Australia.
- Zeus Hosting – Zeus Hosting provides Game Server (Minecraft, CSS, CS:GO, etc.) and Voice Server host
- Lintegrate – GNU/Linux, Free and Open Source Software, Socially-minded Technological Development
- David Nash – Freelance web developer building high quality websites, specialising in WordPress
- The Old Fitzroy Hotel – Located in Woolloomooloo, Sydney
- Seagull Photography – Seagull Photography is a family portrait photography business in Sydney
Given the current volatility of Bitcoin value I imagine they’re having to shift their prices about a lot, or simply list prices in Australian dollars as normal and then look at the current exchange rate. Purchasing something with Bitcoins right now does seem like a significant gamble for all involved: The exchange rate shifts moment by moment.
While obviously there are a small number of businesses accepting Bitcoins, it generally seems that there are a limited set of legitimate reasons to get involved. The first is the lack of government oversight. That clearly appeals to some people although it’s not something that will last if Bitcoins themselves survive. Even now Bitcoins are considered legal tender by the Australian Taxation Office and are subject to all the normal rules; so for general purposes they are subject to the same oversight as a dollar coin if you buy something from a legitimate local retailer.
The second is speculation – there’s clearly a Bitcoin bubble expanding at the moment and if you gambled on Bitcoins a couple of months ago you have done well, or will if you choose the pre-bubble-popping moment to sell your holding. It must be said, that there are those who dispute that the surge in Bitcoin prices reflects a bubble and if they’re right they stand to make a lot of money. However, the very volatility which makes Bitcoins a compelling gamble at the moment, also detracts from their attraction as legitimate currency. If you are buying seeking a return on your investment you’re happy to see the value move about; if you are buying something with a virtual coin, a beer for example, you want some certainty and stability in your currency.
The final reason is publicity. If you do a search on Bitcoins and Sydney you’ll find that the Old Fitzroy hotel got an immense amount of free publicity out of its announcement that it would accept Bitcoins. I somehow doubt that a vast number of beers have actually been bought with Bitcoins.
If you are interested in buying Bitcoins it’s possible to do that locally in Sydney. It might be reassuring when dealing in Bitcoins to be transferring money to a local Westpac account; but equally dealing with a big exchange might seem safer in some circumstances. Either way treading into this world does have a slightly murky feel that might give anyone cause to think before handing over a substantial sum of money. It’s also worth noting that the exchanges have an enormous buy-sell spread – on a list price of around A$1000 at the moment there’s a difference of $100 between buying and selling.
A safe starting point might well be the Sydney Bitcoin User Group. They meet regularly in Martin Place and seem to attract a range of people who are prepared to attach their names and faces to the discussion. And it’s an interesting discussion – whether we’re seeing a bubble in action or the birth of a new currency, I think when we look back at this time Bitcoins are going to be one of the defining topics. Perhaps we’ll be able to talk about it over a beer.