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Bitcoin now accepted in London pub. In Hack-ney, of course

Hipster connection rather than organised crime - in this case

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A pub in East London has become the first in Britain to accept Bitcoin in lieu of real money.

The Pembury Tavern, in Hackney, is within easy reach of Shoreditch by fixed-speed bike and is a favourite haunt of the area's many varieties of hipster (as opposed to the area's equally numerous drug-dealing community, another group who occasionally favour bitcoins).

It now accepts the virtual currency, along with its sister establishments in Cambridge, Norwich and Peterborough.

The man who founded the pub chain, Stephen Early, decided to give the online currency a go and has now sold something in the region of £800 of Bitcoin-bankrolled booze.

He said: "I really didn't expect that wave of enthusiasm and people coming in to try it out. There is a certain novelty value."

The landlord first became interested in Bitcoin in 2011, after buying some virtual coins, which then promptly increased in value around 20 times.

"In 2011 there wasn't really anything to do with them," he continued. "So I did the equivalent of putting them in a drawer and forgetting about them."

After a minor epiphany, he thought of a way to use them in the pub by modifying his purpose-built till software. All that drinkers need to do is open their virtual wallet and then take a snap of a QR code generated on the till screen. Once the payment is confirmed, the forward-thinking drinker is then able to enjoy their tipple, with the interaction sometimes even faster than a card payment.

However, despite the pub chain becoming ever more popular with virtual currency aficionados, the owner isn't about to stuff all his Bitcoins in a virtual mattress.

"My plan is gradually to turn them back into pounds," he confessed.

Bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular with ordinary people, but has fallen foul of the law in America, making its future far from certain. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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