Waikato's United Sweets accepts Bitcoin

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 12:30 19/02/2014

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Bitcoin has hit the Waikato with franchise United Sweets accepting it online, and in stores later this week.

The digital currency, invented in 2009, is "mined" by computers that unlock Bitcoins by solving complex algorithms.

So far, 12 million have been unlocked, and only 21 million units can ever be mined.

The currency hit the headlines when the Bank of America said in a research paper last year that it could become a "major means for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor for money transfer providers".

United Sweets chief executive Finn Puklowski said he believed the seven-store chain was the first franchise in New Zealand to accept Bitcoin, and was possibly the first business in the Waikato to do so too.

"Bitcoin is just a great alternative currency, it's spreading around the world pretty quickly and we see it as a good way to stay ahead as a technology firm."

The company's online segment was "huge" said Puklowski. Last year the website had 620,000 visitors, with United Sweets shipping 15,000 individual orders per year.

He said the company already ran a cloud-based sales system on iPads in its stores.

"We're integrating the Bitcoin payment system into our iPads, and that allows our customers to pay over the counter with Bitcoin."

He said the company had had its first Bitcoin sale yesterday, and he expected to see more coming through as Bitcoin blogs and online forums picked up on United Sweets accepting the currency.

"I do think there'll be a good pick up, especially in Auckland.

"In terms of transactions I'd like to see 1 to 2 per cent coming through and I think it'll happen quite quickly because there's actually quite a bit of Bitcoin in New Zealand and there are not actually too many retailers that accept it."

Puklowski said around 11,000 websites in America already accepted Bitcoin.

The digital currency has been tainted by controversy. It was initially used by those attracted by it's lack of traceability, and has been dogged by volatility since it's introduction to mainstream trading.

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- Waikato

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