Technology to accept Bitcoin


What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an electronic payment system and currency allowing for peer-to-peer payments and financial exchanges without regulation by a financial institution or centralized bank. Started in 2009 by a person (or people) named Satoshi Nakamoto , the currency was originally obtained through a process called mining, where people use computers to essentially solve a complex algorithm and receive Bitcoin in exchange. With its recent spike in attention, and the growing difficulty and expense of mining, many are now obtaining Bitcoin by purchasing it with their own form of real money or by exchanging and selling goods and services. announced Thursday that it is now accepting Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer digital currency, as a method of payment on more than 200,000 products. The Miami-based company said it is the first major U.S. electronics retailer and largest company to date to accept the digital currency Bitcoin via BitPay.

After several months of reviewing options for processing Bitcoin, TigerDirect, a subsidiary of Systemax, chose BitPay to transact Bitcoin payments on its website. TigerDirect will not only accept the digital currency as payment, but will also sell the computer components used to “mine” the currency as well. Mining is using computers to essentially solve a complex algorithm and receiving Bitcoin in exchange.

Because TigerDirect caters to people who like to build their own PCs with parts offered on TigerDirect’s site — some of whom want to mine Bitcoins —it’s a logical move for the company, said Steven Leeds, director of corporate marketing. He said that TigerDirect employees, many of them Bitcoin enthusiasts themselves, made a compelling case to management to begin accepting Bitcoin. “Being first out the gate in our particular industry will give us a competitive advantage in showing this community what we have to offer. And the guy who is using a very specific computer to accumulate these type of coins, especially with their value now, is looking to spend it and not just trade it,” Leeds said.

Retailer acceptance of the Bitcoin has been rapidly accelerating, with hundreds of small businesses accepting them as currency, particularly in California. Earlier this month, announced it would be accepting Bitcoin using another service, Coinbase. Though controversial and subject to big price swings -- Bitcoin traded above $1,000 earlier this year before falling back to about $825 now -- Bitcoin’s attraction is that it cuts out the government or banking middleman. Buyers and sellers of Bitcoins can deal with one another using direct deposits into electronic wallets.

In South Florida this week, hundreds of Bitcoin enthusiasts, retailers and financial, government and technology experts will gather at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami Beach. The conference is Saturday and Sunday at the Miami Beach Convention Center and begins with a party at the Clevelander open to all on Friday night. The Bitcoin debate will also take the stage at next Thursday’s monthly event titled “Tech and the Future of Money” presented by Refresh Miami, South Florida’s largest tech group.

Miami Herald staff writer Lance Dixon contributed to this report. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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