Wednesday, 30 October 2013

BitCoin A Clear Choice For Seattle Window Cleaner

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Bitcoin: a clear choice for Seattle window cleaner - The window cleaning industry isn’t exactly recession-proof. Just ask Christian Bennett, a 23-year veteran that started his own Seattle-based business, Christian Bennett Window Cleaning, in 2000. For Bennett, the job began as way to work hard for a season, rake in some cash and split for the winter to travel the world.

Today, such luxuries are harder to come by. “In the last 10 years I’ve seen window cleaning rates only rise by 10% to 20% on average, while the cost of pretty much everything else has doubled in that time,” Bennett told CoinDesk. “I’m finding I’m having to compete with businesses that are still charging what they were 10 to 15 years ago.”

Bennett, however, thinks he’s found the solution for his business and the ailing window cleaning industry: bitcoin. He recalls that he first learned about bitcoin last spring, and it wasn’t long before he says he was committing classic “noob” mistakes. “I saw BTC go from $45 to $266 overnight. I went into full noob panic mode trying to get my first BTC,” Bennett recalls. “For all I knew they were going to $2,000. By the time I was able to buy one, the price had dropped to $75. I bought two at $150.”

Despite his interest in bitcoin, Bennett didn’t start accepting it at his business until September when he discovered Coinvoice, a merchant-facing service that he says helped him circumvent his still working knowledge of the currency. Bennet now accepts BizXchange credits and hopes to soon take litecoin, but he still regrets his initial reluctance to start using virtual currencies. “My general excuse was that with so few people owning BTC I should really wait a couple more years, until it’s more well known before getting involved,” Bennett said.

Bennett says he has already seen an increase in business related to bitcoin, and that he expects a more noticeable bump come spring due to both the increased volume of business and the 15% discount he currently offers on bitcoin purchases. “Most people don’t know about or understand BTC, but they understand that discount right away,” Bennett said. “I’ve gotten some skeptical responses, but if I take the time to clearly explain it to them they usually show an openness to learn more about it.”

Going forward, Bennett plans to keep a more personal approach to bolstering his bitcoin earnings. He will soon issue a postcard to clients that explains bitcoin and includes the tools they need to start their own research. It’s a grassroots approach, according to Bennett, but he likes the social aspect of virtual currency the best. “I hope I can inspire other business owners and entrepreneurs to take the leap and get involved. It’s a lot of fun and very enlightening,” Bennett said. Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system.

A Vancouver resident uses the world's first bitcoin ATM.
Bitcoin cashes in as its first ATM opens in Vancouver: Virtual currency takes another step towards the mainstream as easy-to-use machine opens in Canadian coffee shop. A silver and blue ATM, perched up next to the espresso bar in a trendy Vancouver coffee shop, could launch a new era for the virtual currency bitcoin, offering an almost instant way to exchange the world's leading virtual money for cash. The value of a bitcoin soared from $13 in January to a high of $266 in April as more businesses and consumers used them to buy and sell online. Some investors are also treating bitcoins like gold, using them to hedge against currency fluctuations and speculating on their rise.

The kiosk, which looks like the average ATM but with hand and barcode scanners, opened for business on Tuesday and by mid-morning people were lined up to swap their bitcoins for cash, or to deposit cash to buy more bitcoins. "It's as easy as walking up to a machine, scanning your hand, entering some cash and buying bitcoin," said Jordan Kelley, chief executive of Las Vegas-based Robocoin, the company that builds the ATMs. "With this, it's a 2-minute process. For any online exchange, it's at least two days."

Bitcoins, currently worth about $210 each, can be transferred without going through banks or clearing houses, thereby cutting fees. Users can buy products and services online or in a handful of stores, including the Waves coffee shop where the ATM is located. With the bitcoin ATM, users scan their hand to confirm identity, then funds move to or from a virtual wallet on their smartphone. The system limits transfers to $1,000 a day, in an effort to curb money laundering and other fraud.

Bitcoiniacs, the local dealer that operates the ATM, will roll out four other kiosks across Canada in December. Robocoin said Canada was the ideal place to launch the kiosk due to a critical mass of users and less stringent oversight than in the US, where the bitcoin trade is monitored by anti-money laundering regulators. "We think the Vancouver market is enormous and we're excited to be here," said Kelley. "By the end of 2013, we'll be all over Canada. By the end of 2014, we'll be all over the world, including the US."

Bitcoin is not a recognised currency in Canada, so Ottawa's anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, does not monitor its trade. However, Bitcoiniacs' founders say they are working with the agency to be ready for when Canada does start regulating them. "We're already being proactive in our business," said Bitcoiniacs co-founder Mitchell Demeter. "We abide by any guidelines they would impose - which includes the 'know your customer' laws and anti-money laundering laws."
Going mainstream

Bitcoins were launched in 2008 and are traded within a global network of computers. They are not backed by a single company or government, but their release is tightly controlled, mimicking a central banking system's control over the minting of money. Bitcoins can be bought with near anonymity, which supporters say lowers fraud risk and increases privacy. But critics say that also makes bitcoins a magnet for drug transactions, money-laundering and other illegal activities.

The currency's reputation took a hit this month, when US regulators shut down Silk Road, an online marketplace used to buy and sell illegal drugs, and seized $3.6m (£2.3m) in bitcoins. But the virtual currency is gaining hold among businesses and consumers, a key step to a bigger role. "I think it's definitely going mainstream," said Demeter. "I think as things progress, and the infrastructure is built, it will become easier for people to buy and sell, and so more people will start using it."

In Vancouver, for example, dozens of people attend weekly bitcoin meet-ups and a member co-op is promoting the currency to a growing list of local retailers. At Waves, Vancouver resident Chung Cheong used bitcoin to pay for his mug of tea and was happy to mull over the future of the digital currency. "It's been said that we're at the stage where email was in 1992," he said. "Is it risky? Sure. But look at how the internet and email changed the world."

Major Bitcoin theft from website, claims owner.

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