A NEW café believes it will be the first shop in Oxford that will accept the digital currency Bitcoin over the counter.
Customers will be able to use a smart phone app to buy sandwiches at JimBob’s Baguettes on Magdalen Street with the entirely online currency created four years ago.
However, the currency came under fire in February after the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt Gox, in Japan collapsed with debts of £38m following suspected hacking attacks.
JimBob’s proprietor James Morris, 34, said he wanted to have the fun of playing the Bitcoin market, but seriously supported the idea behind it.
Mr Morris, who moved to Oxford from Manchester with his wife Heather last year, said: “We both believe it is a fantastic piece of technology for the world.
“Every currency in the world has had problems but unlike other currencies I can hold all my Bitcoins myself in my pocket.
“It gives you control over your own money.”
Bitcoins, currently worth about £300 each, are shared peer-to-peer online, like music files.
They are created by a computer algorithm and released into the public domain, currently at a rate of about 25 every 10 minutes.
At Jimbob’s Baguettes, customers paying with Bitcoin will get a 10 per cent discount compared to customers paying with a credit card because there is no charge to the café from a credit card company or bank.
Mr Morris said that while some companies immediately transfer Bitcoins into pounds or dollars for security, the café intended to keep Bitcoin takings in their online format and follow their fortune.
He and business partner Bob Sayers said they approved of the currency because it allows money transfers free of charge around the world.
He said: “Oxford, with the higher level of intelligent students, has got more chance that people may have heard about it before.
“It is more likely to do well here than a lot of places.”
He has already received encouraging messages from people who have seen adverts in the shop window, saying they looked forward to buying in Bitcoin.
Anthony Harris, chairman of Oxford charter accountants firm Critchley’s, said: “There is a big question mark over the security of Bitcoins after the collapse of Mt Gox. It is inherently more unstable than any currency backed by a central bank.”
But, he said: “In two year’s time these people might have ploughed a new furrow in retail commercialism.”
The shop opens in a week.