While many new car dealers are struggling to reach sales objectives for the year, Norman Vialle, President and owner of Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler is knocking it out of the park. Since word got out that his dealership would be the first to accept the increasingly popular internet currency Bitcoin, Bitcoin enthusiasts from across the nation and around the world have reached out to inquire about a new car purchase.
In fact, with six vehicles sold in the last few days, a question frequently posed in the media seems to have been answered. That is: What exactly can one buy with Bitcoin?
Vialle is not the least bit surprised by the response, saying “When you offer a form of payment that no one else is offering, you’re going to attract more buyers.”
And more buyers there are. Blockchain.info, a Bitcoin wallet provider, just announced the setup of 70,000 new users in the past week alone. Bitcoin has even caught the attention of some big players, such as billionaire Sir Richard Branson and the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernake, who stated in a letter to the senate that the virtual currency “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.”
But how is Vialle shouldering the financial risk posed by the volatile nature of Bitcoin? After all, the price is currently three times what it was a month ago on the popular Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox as recorded by BitcoinX, and could potentially drop as fast at it has risen. How can he afford to take the chance that $40,000 worth of Bitcoin might become $30,000 overnight? “That’s simple,” he says, “I don’t take the risk.”
Vialle processes Bitcoin payments through Bitpay, a Bitcoin payment processor based out of Atlanta, GA. Bitpay clears and settles the funds (in this case, into US dollars) directly to his bank account within 24 hours with no risk to the dealership, even if the Bitcoin price rises or falls within that time frame. Of course the later is less of an occurrence these days, with the price of a single Bitcoin now over $1000.
“The fact that I can use Bitpay to receive a settlement in dollars makes it possible for me to accept Bitcoin in the first place”, says Vialle. “If more dealers were aware of this, I’m sure they’d be accepting Bitcoin as well.”
Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Kansas City Star for their unique position in the marketplace as a retailer who accepts Bitcoin. Bitcoin has become a frequent topic of conversation in the Kansas City area, as it is also home to well-known Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Butterfly Labs.