Travel Blog

16 Jan

Vancouver Woman Selling Car for Bitcoins

Photo credit: antanacoins | Flickr

Photo credit: antanacoins | Flickr

Looking for a new car in Vancouver? Here’s a steal.

Sarah Yu, a Vancouver public relations manager, made waves this week by posting an ad for her 2006 Volkswagen Jetta, with sunroof, heated seats and 150,000 kilometres. What was extraordinary wasn’t the car, however, but the price: 8 Bitcoins.

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Yu’s ad – or, more accurately, Tweet – specified that she was not accepting cash for the car, just Bitcoins, the controversial, all-digital currency.  Introduced by a computer developer in 2008, the virtual coins have skyrocketed in value over the past year, from $13 in January 2013 to more than $900 this month.

The current valuation of one Bitcoin is around $910, which puts the price of the Jetta at about $7,280.  In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Yu said, “I really believe in the power of crypto-currencies … I’m a big Bitcoin advocate and I thought, ‘Why not put it out there and see what comes back?’”

Vancouver is emerging as a centre for Bitcoin transactions.  The world’s first Bitcoin ATM – which dispenses Bitcoins for cash and vice-versa – opened inside a downtown Waves coffee shop in October.

Meanwhile, approximately 16 businesses in Vancouver accept the currency, according to the Vancouver Sun.  Among the merchants are Krystal Fit Studio, a personal training business, and Pacific Bliss Yoga, which was the first business in Western Canada to take Bitcoins from customers.

Bitcoin supporters and critics both tend to point to the same characteristics of the currency.  Bitcoin isn’t backed by a mint or regulated by any central bank – in fact, few countries have formally acknowledged that it’s a currency at all.  This means it can’t be manipulated by governments but, at the same time, is also subject to extreme price fluctuations.

Transactions made with Bitcoin are posted publicly, but the identity of users is encrypted. For some this anonymity is a virtue, while others point out that it facilitates illegal transactions (Silk Road, the online drug exchange shut down last year, was a bit Bitcoin user) and makes it difficult to track theft.

Would you use Bitcoins? Let us know below. 

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.  

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