Coffee shop becomes Northern Ireland's first local business to take bitcoin
A Belfast family-run coffee shop has become the first indigenous Northern Ireland business to accept bitcoin in store.
Orla McKeating (33) and her father Brian (62) are at the forefront of using the cryptocurrency at the popular Boden Park Coffee Company on Belfast's Ormeau Road.
Customers can now pay for drinks and food using the same type of terminal traditionally used for credit card payments.
And the family interest in bitcoin is set to grow further, with Brian McKeating setting up his own firm to help companies adapt to using the modern payment method.
And Boden is the first Northern Irish owned business to begin taking payments in-store with bitcoin.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Orla McKeating said:"We have been open about a year-and-a-half, and we are always looking to expand in terms of products, services and how we can improve.
"I saw a coffee shop in Prague that offered this, as well as those in London and elsewhere.
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"We just launched, and there was some great interest on social media, people coming in to use it as well as a few regulars - some people you wouldn't think would be on board."
And one of the reasons - aside from moving with the times is the issue of cost.
"There is little or no cost for us. It's almost the same as using a credit card - but there is no charge to us.
"So far, it has been great. We've had several people using it since we started this month."
Bitcoin is a solely digital currency or 'internet money' which can be used to purchase a range of goods and services across the globe.
It's not held centrally, but controlled through a 'wallet' which is secured with a unique code.
And while still very much in its infancy here, a Northern Ireland-founded firm, Bitnet, is at the forefront of bitcoin - helping big name retailers process their online payments.
Already ahead of the curve among businesses in Northern Ireland, Ms McKeating of Boden Park Coffee said she expected the interest to grow substantially.
Now, her father Brian is using his some four decades of experience in the IT industry to help other businesses adopt the technology.
"I'm going to focus rolling the model out to other businesses, because I couldn't find anywhere to help me," he said.
"That's now my full-time focus."
Boden Coffee first got help and assistance from Niall Maye (37), who set up Bitcoin Association Northern Ireland, after taking up an interest in the technology.
And the group is now also set to have its first meeting at Boden Park Coffee Company on Thursday, May 28 at 6.30pm.