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Bitcoin Friday sale event kicks off with deep discounts

Buy a car with Bitcoins, save $5,000

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A group of businesses from  the Bitcoin community have teamed up to offer their own version of a "Black Friday" sale, with the twin aims of increasing awareness of the digital currency and stimulating the economy around it.

For those unfamiliar with American customs, Black Friday in the US refers to the day after Thanksgiving Day, which is traditionally considered the first day of the holiday shopping season. It's generally the busiest shopping day of the year, resulting in huge profits for retailers – thus, putting them "in the black."

Bitcoin Friday is based on a similar idea, with Bitcoin exchanges and merchants who accept the currency offering promotional sales as a way to get Bitcoin users shopping.

The event was the brainchild of Jon Holmquist, co-founder of Coinabul, a marketplace where customers can exchange Bitcoin for precious metals. The problem, as Holmquist sees it, is that too many Bitcoin users are banking their digital currency instead of buying things with it.

"With news reports of 78 per cent of Bitcoins not being spent, we need to do something," Holmquist told El Reg in an email.

To mark Bitcoin Friday, Coinabul is offering customers $1 off per ounce of silver or $10 off per ounce of gold. Joining it are 67 other merchants offering a variety of deals, ranging from free shipping to discounted merchandise and service fees.

Most of the merchants are online businesses, but some local business are getting involved, too. In Berlin, the restaurant Room 77 is offering free drinks and a 23 per cent discount to anyone who pays in Bitcoin on Bitcoin Friday. Owner Joerg Platzer says he's working on getting other neighborhood merchants to accept the digital currency, as well.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising offer comes from Wikispeed, makers of a custom, modular car that claims to be able to drive 100 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. On Bitcoin Friday only, customers who purchase a Wikispeed SGT01 with Bitcoins can get 20 per cent off the list price, a $5,000 discount.

As the November 9 sale got underway, your Reg reporter checked in with Holmquist to see how it was going. "It's going fantastic so far!" came the response. "We had so many hits this morning that I had to upgrade servers and add some DDoS protection."

Holmquist said early reports from participating merchants indicate record sales, and Coinabul itself expects over 3,000 unique visitors on Friday. The event has been successful enough so far, he said, that he expects Bitcoin Friday to reappear next year around the same time – and the group already has "something" planned for Christmas.

To hear Holmquist tell it, that something will be big – eventually. While he admits Bitcoin Friday won't overshadow Black Friday, he says, "It certainly rings a death knell for conventional payment processors. In next couple years digital will be the new plastic, and Bitcoin Friday will be the new poster child of consumerism." ®

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