Many Tulsa Business Begin Using Virtual Currency
TULSA, Oklahoma - The virtual currency Bitcoin sounds like something from a science fiction movie. Just last month, the exchange service that manages 70 percent of Bitcoin transactions, filed for bankruptcy. But, that's not stopping some Tulsans from buying into Bitcoin.
You can send Bitcoins through the Internet, or on your phone with an app, much like sending cash digitally. It's new and different, and a risk one business owner hopes will pay off.
No banking, no fees, sounds like a dream for any business. But Bitcoin is also uncertain. It's backed only by the good faith of the people who use it, and the exchange rates fluctuate. Still, Tulsa business owners are taking the gamble.
"I feel like we're kind of on the cutting edge of what we do, so why not with payment as well," said Shannon Prokop of Fortune Cookie Soap.
Prokop makes and sells fortune cookie soap out of this downtown Jenks storefront.
"Any given day we'll get orders from Austria, Canada, Finland we got the other day, Saudi Arabia," Propkop said.
She accepts Bitcoin, and is testing the currency with her customers.
"Is this something that they want to use? Do they feel more comfortable? Do they feel safer," asked Prokop.
Joanne Chong at Asian Fusion also takes Bitcoin and says it will save her money in transaction fees.
"Transaction fee is a lot better than credit cards," said Chong.
But Zac Carman, who runs a consumer news and advocacy organization in downtown Tulsa, says Bitcoin is not for everyone.
"Buying bitcoins is very high risk. So, I would not advise buying bitcoins. If you look at the liquidity in the market, if you look at the exchange rate fluctuation, it's a very high risk," said Carman.
These business owners say they're rolling the dice, betting that Bitcoin is the next big thing.
"It is risky, but I don't want to be that one day, I wish we would've done it," Prokop said.
Many online retailers accept Bitcoin, you can even buy a Tesla car in Bitcoin. According to Bitcoin.org, as of August the value of all bitcoins in circulation exceeded $1.5 billion dollars, with millions of dollars in Bitcoins exchanged daily.