UK Firm Drives Home Bitcoin Message

Friday 26 July 2013

With new bitcoin companies springing up all over the world, Cumbria, UK, a region famed for lakes, fells and Beatrix Potter, can now claim its first bitcoin business.

Fresh on the bitcoin scene, Carlisle based Cumbria Cabs only started accepting the currency a couple of weeks a go after opening a merchant account through Bitpay. The very low transaction fees associated with bitcoin and the reduced risk of credit card fraud both appealed.

“I was attracted by the very low charges for sending and receiving payments when compared with credit cards, PayPal and other online payments,” owner, Alistair Nixon says. “We have had a few problems with ‘Cardholder not present’ payments for taxis.”

With Carlisle being the furthest city in the UK from any international airport, Cumbria Cabs provides a much-needed service for clients from all over the world. With the high number of business travellers as well, bitcoin seemed an efficient solution.

 
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The digital currency certainly lends itself well to a taxi firm’s business model. A company providing a service to so many overseas customers and high volumes of transactions done online or in a car, makes the ability to email invoices, a URL payment link, or even a QR code to a customer’s smartphone, very attractive.

 

“One of the main benefits for us is the option to accept payments from any currency and from any country in the world, this is great for people flying into the UK and wishing to book an airport transfer with us,” Mr Nixon says.

 

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Despite Cumbria’s sparse population, the picturesque area attracts around 40 million tourists, who contribute more than £2 billion to the region’s economy each year.  It is certainly big business and one, which Mr Nixon believes, many Cumbrian firms could capitalise on with bitcoin.

“When business owners realise that they can take bookings and payments from anywhere in the world, in any currency, with a very small transaction charge and fraud risk (compared to credit cards) they will surely want to have that option,” he says.

The vastly fluctuating value of bitcoin in recent months against the GBP and other currencies can put off some business owners and the taxi firm admits it has been a concern. “If we quote someone a price in bitcoin and then the bitcoin price drops sharply half an hour later then we could potentially lose money.”

But always one for bucking a trend, with a strong internet and social media presence (facebook and twitter), the Cumbria cab firm are convinced bitcoin is the way forward and are encouraged by the value and volume of bitcoin transactions, which are currently estimated at over US$34.7 million.

With their bitcoin service barely started, they are yet to have their first bitcoin transaction but they have found it generating a lot of interest on twitter (@CumbriaCabs) and would love to know of any other Cumbrian businesses, who have decided to offer bitcoin as a payment option.


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Louise Goss


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