Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere in rural Cornwall, you've probably heard of Bitcoin. It's the crypto-currency that's got economists everywhere re-writing the textbooks, and it's now in a shop near you.
Bitcoin is cool, hip, and ever-trendy, much like the general population of Shoreditch, so it's no surprise that Europe's first Bitcoin store, Azteco, has set up shop there.
The budding Bitcoin enterprise is aiming to make buying the virtual currency much more accessible to the general public.
Their system is easy enough. Just like topping up phone credit, you buy some Bitcoin over the counter and then cash in the voucher you get through your smartphone. Voilà, binary banking.
The store has been open since February this year, and welcomes anyone interested in getting their hands on some digital cash.
Akin Fernandez, the founder of Azteco, sat down and told T3 all about his new store.
“We needed to do a field test of our new service, and there had never been a Bitcoin store in the whole of Europe. It was a good way to get people to try our service and take it through its paces.”
“We're now ready to roll out our first 15 full time vendors. Azteco sites will be opening in England, Italy, Ireland, India and Canada.”
You don't have to be clued up on the currency to get involved either.
“We had many first time buyers that were curious about Bitcoin. We helped them install a wallet, and then sold them a low value voucher to try.”
“Once we go live in many thousands of sites, there will no longer be anyhassle in getting Bitcoin. Just turn up, pay and get your Bitcoin in70 seconds.”
Populated by some of the capital's hottest start-ups, Shoreditch was the perfect spot for Fernandez's brainchild.
“It's cool. It's young. It's right next door to the city. Many tie-wearing types came down on their lunch break to see us and talk. Shoreditch is a perfect place for us.”
Fernandez was more than happy to fill T3 in on what the future holds for Azteco.
“Our model does not require building specialized equipment, and so we can open new outlets very quickly. We want to capture the market and mould the perception of what Bitcoin is and raise the bar in terms of usability.”
“No one, after using Azteco, will wait three days or even three hours to get their Bitcoin. We are as easy as topping up a pay as you go mobile phone, and that's how Bitcoin should work; quick, easy, and hassle free.”
Can't wait to get your hands on some digi-dosh? Neither can we. Head down to Azteco and get in on the action.
By Sean Keach