Bay Area restaurants experiment with bitcoin

bayrestaurants08 June 2014 / SFGate – As of today, the Curry Up Now locations in San Francisco and Palo Alto have added low-alcohol cocktails and sangria, similar to the San Mateo location’s Mortar & Pestle bar. Both locations have also introduced another perk: You can now pay for dinner and drinks in Bitcoin.

According to Coinmap, a total of 12 restaurants, cafes and food shops in the Bay Area currently take the alternate currency. Most use Bitpay, which allows restaurants to process bitcoin transactions and be paid in U.S. dollars, with only a small transaction fee. (The seller can also take part or all of that money in bitcoin.)

The San Mateo location of Curry Up Now has been accepting bitcoin for a few months now, says regional manager Darrel Oribello. “My initial reservation was that it wouldn’t be popular or that it would hold up the line,” he says. “It has been a smooth process, though. There is no difference between when someone is paying with bitcoin or credit cards.”

We’re not talking half of the restaurant’s transactions, even in bitcoin-boosting Silicon Valley,  but Oribello says at least a diner or two uses Bitpay every day. The restaurant’s owners are confident enough in the currency’s future to extend bitcoin payments to all three locations.

Bitpay, founded in 2011, is now the oldest bitcoin payment gateway processors, says director of engineering Andy Phillipson. Most of the Atlanta-based company’s clients operate online, but Phillipson estimates 10 to 15% of its clients sell food, and the company is negotiating with three or four POS systems to integrate Bitpay into their software. “We’re processing on the order of $1 million a day in transactions,” he says.

Jennifer Longson’s Cakes & Cups Bakery in SoMa was one of the first retail businesses in California to take bitcoin. It only accounts for a few sales a week, but it has been a marketing bonanza: She’s ended up in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Forbes.…. Read more

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