Bonita Springs, FL, Atilus, a full-service web development and Internet marketing firm, has become the first ad agency in the United States and state of Florida to accept Bitcoins.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that enables payments to anyone in the world. Bitcoin refers to a unit of currency in the Bitcoin network. Those who run the network, called “miners,” process transactions using specialized hardware and open source software. Miners are rewarded by “discovering” coins and through transaction fees. These coins can then be openly distributed back into the system in exchange for goods and services without any centralized financial institution or government. The current number of coins in circulation is roughly 12.5 million with a total cap of 21 million which will be mined in 2140.
“Bitcoin is an amazing platform that will change the way the world understands money,” explained Zach Katkin, President and CEO of Atilus in Bonita Springs. “Although support is still in its infancy, we understand its potential and have already been contacted by future clients looking to pay in Bitcoin. We want to help educate fellow businesses on its value as a protocol. Atilus’ mission is bettering our community and growing our clients’ businesses through technology. Bitcoin is completely aligned with this mission. We’ve recently started accepting Bitcoin via Coinbase.com and the experience has been amazing.”
Bitcoin was created in 2009 following the 2008 release of a paper published by its creator Satoshi Nakamoto titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” It gained initial mainstream traction after the recent banking collapse in Cyprus.
Many businesses throughout the world are accepting bitcoins. Currency exchanges exist to change Bitcoins to other currencies while wide-spread adoption remains limited. But, Bitcoin holders and its proponents are dedicated to its use. For example Bitcoin-ers have been reported to drive hours to support a local Pennsylvania Subway franchise that recently began accepting the currency. Using an application on a tablet device to convert bitcoins to dollars, this franchise was among the first in the United States to accept the new currency.
When merchants accept Bitcoins, they have the opportunity to add the coins to their company’s own digital wallets or, through the use of existing merchant services, businesses can immediately convert the coins to their desired currency. Using this method merchants receive a deposit in their bank accounts as if the transaction occurred using any other conventional method. Bitcoin wallets are where businesses and individuals keep their Bitcoins, which include a unique “private key” that proves to the rest of the Bitcoin network they have access to the coins in the addresses in their wallet.
“There’s a lot of confusing-sounding terminology and concepts around Bitcoin and so far that has slowed its adoption. We believe, like the fundamental protocols of the Internet – TCP/IP, for example, the specifics of Bitcoin may remain esoteric, but Bitcoin the currency and services built on top of it, will gain massive world-wide adoption. We’re going to do our part to educate people on how it works.”
The currency was originally vilified due to its complexity and connection to the Silk Road, an online black market. However, with the Silk Road’s shutdown back in October of 2013 many governments are beginning to openly adopt Bitcoin. Germany has taken the lead and accepted bitcoins as a “unit of account” as well as classified it as “private money.”
In the US, the outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave Bitcoin his cautious blessing in a letter to Congress prior to a November 18th hearing on virtual currencies in which Bitcoin’s reception was overwhelmingly positive.
“Not only do we feel that Bitcoin is an expression of Democracy, but we are excited about the technical ramifications the protocol open the world up to in the realms of money, payment processing, and potentially online identity management. It’s akin to the beginning of the Internet. One of the best analogies I’ve heard is that ‘Bitcoin will do to money what email did to the written letter.’”