We ask the PCR Retail Advisory Board

Will Bitcoin become the norm?

With Scan Computers becoming the first UK PC retailer to accept the virtual currency and US etailer Overstock taking in $1m in Bitcoin sales, the cryptocurrency is becoming big business.

But will more UK retailers accept it in the future? Dominic Sacco asks the PCR Retail Advisory Board…

Will Fletcher, Technology Buyer, Toys ‘R’ Us:

”Sovereign currencies are created to ensure stability of the economy, to enable trade and secure medium-long term investments. Creating virtual currencies disrupts this, and all the reasons why we have one currency have already been exposed through the problems with Bitcoin.

However, questions remain: What is it worth today? What do we expect it to be worth tomorrow (think hyper inflation)? Who is in control of the rules around the creation of Bitcoins? Making it easier to mine Bitcoins could affect inflation/deflation. How secure is it in terms of physical presence (theft and secure storage, for example)?

In a matter of months, Bitcoin has taught us a succinct lesson in why single, centrally-managed currencies exist.”

James Gorbold, Technical Marketing, Scan Computers:

”Scan likes to think of itself as a big innovator, and I believe we’re the first retailer in the IT segment to accept Bitcoin. We’re excited about the potential of it. We’ve also partnered with a respectable trading company in BitPay to offer refunds and everything like that, so there is no difference for a customer [between paying in pound sterling and Bitcoin]. 

Currencies came about thousands of years ago to enable people to trade in a better way, and Bitcoin is another logical step forward in that direction.

Our customers want to spend Bitcoins and we want to embrace that. It’s the 

next logical step forward from cash, cheque and payment cards.” 

Jat Mann, MD, PC Pal:

”It’s a little early to know whether Bitcoin will become an acceptable currency. However, early adopters may well be on to a winner (much like the early investors in Google).

The way Bitcoin fluctuates widely will probably concern the public far more than businesses. The news of Scan accepting Bitcoin is encouraging and will perhaps kick-start the acceptance of the currency across the IT sector.

Consumers understand exchange rate fluctuations, and some have a foray into the FX markets as a way of making some extra money – but they also like to have certainty in that value of their wealth.”

Craig Hume, Director, Utopia Computers:

”Money is simply an expression of an agreed value, and in that context I can see virtual currencies like Bitcoin starting to make a lot of sense. Scan’s decision to accept Bitcoin has been very clever – getting in on the ground floor has got them a lot of attention. However, I think for most retailers the volatility of virtual currency is simply too big a risk to take on. 

As the US and other countries continue to hint at outlawing the currency, I certainly think it is only the companies who are willing to speculate in the market that will be able to participate in accepting Bitcoin at the moment.”

CK, MD, YoYoTech:

”At some point in the future, Bitcoin might be a standard global currency, but you also have to consider that China has the second largest economy in the world and no one seems to be buying and selling yuan. Right now, the focus for crypto currencies seems to be accumulation/speculation. 

We have no plans to accept new currencies, but we do sell a lot of computer hardware to prospectors eager to create a position for themselves in this new market.

My parting thought: following the gold rush in the early 1800s, California is now one of the biggest economies on the planet– but these days it is more famous for films and wine than gold.”

Gavin Holder, Director, GHI Computers:

”My first thoughts of Bitcoin being something to consider were given real weight when I read about a guy scouring a landfill site looking for a Bitcoin-filled hard drive. This led me to delve a little deeper into the virtual currency to see what all the fuss was about.

Although its growth seems to have exploded at the back end of 2013, it seems extremely volatile – having lost almost 50 per cent of its value since its peak. 

The regular theft of Bitcoins is also worrying. I can’t see the logic of its existence, given that a hacker can steal your wealth without a trace. For me it’s too early to even consider trading in virtual currency until a secure, stable platform is established.”

Have your say

PCR asks its Retail Advisory Panel – formed of buyers and experts – about the biggest industry trends and issues each month. To join, email Dominic.Sacco@intentmedia.co.uk

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