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Scottish retailer CeX disposes of pound for Bitcoin

Technological and electronic goods retailer CeX has become the first retailer in the UK to allow customers to receive virtual currency for products.

Scotland-based second-hand exchange retailer CeX said this week that it will be replacing the pound with virtual currency Bitcoin for three days in its store in the Sauchiehall area of Glasgow. The company's commercial director David Butler said the move is a suitable brand fit.

Butler called the strategy an "innovative trial" with a number of potential business benefits, adding: "In our store, the staff and customers live and breathe technology so it's only appropriate we looked at Bitcoin as a way for our customers to buy and sell electronic goods.

"Not only does Bitcoin have a number of security and access benefits, but it is also gaining popularity amongst consumers the world over."

There is an argument that the move is partly a publicity stunt related to impending Scottish independence vote later this summer, which has caused a debate about the future unit of currency in Scotland, but it is clear there are various new payment methods battling to gain traction in the business world.

STV, which originally reported the story, said that the use of Bitcoin to buy products is increasing in popularity, but CeX's initiative will – for the first time – allow customers to earn the currency by selling goods.

According to a recent report by The Why Forum, the number of Bitcoin transactions globally has grown tenfold in the last year to represent a total value of more than £40 million. Several pubs in the UK, for example, accept the currency as a means of paying for goods.

Technology expert and writer Benjamin Cohen commented: "Interest and curiosity around peer-to-peer electronic payments and digital currencies is at an all-time high because there are compelling benefits for both the merchant and consumer.

"CeX's introduction is a reflection that the demand is there and also poses the question, do we need cash? CeX is giving its consumers a genuine way to test that theory. I'm eager to see the results of the trial."

There is no imminent news of larger retailers in the UK following CeX's lead by introducing Bitcoin as a new method of payment, but the debate surrounding the currency in recent months means it is on their radar.

Home Retail Group chief digital officer Bertrand Bodson recently told The Guardian: "Argos aims to be at the forefront of new ways for customers to shop and we continually monitor the evolution of new payment mechanisms, such as digital wallets.

"Bitcoin is a payment initiative that we continue to monitor as part of this evolution."

How does Bitcoin work?