Like most coffee shops, Java Express in Douglas offers its clientele a diverting range of beverages, from an invigorating espresso to a gold-dusted hot chocolate. It is only when customers reach the cash till that they might notice a difference: the bill for a couple of shots of caffeine comes to 0.01202 Bitcoins.
The smart café in the Isle of Man’s sedate capital is one of a scattering of Manx businesses, including a chauffeur company and a popular pub, that accept the cryptocurrency for everyday transactions alongside sterling.
The process is slightly cumbersome. In order to pay with Bitcoin, a receipt has to be produced carrying a conversion from pounds and a square QR code. A mobile phone app then reads the code and sends the requisite fraction of a Bitcoin from the payee’s cryptocurrency virtual wallet. A Bitcoin payment takes maybe three or four seconds longer to perform than a conventional one.
Even so, the company that installed the payment system says it has processed transactions for “thousands of pounds worth” of coffees.
The ability of Douglas’ 27,000 residents to go about at least some of their daily business using a form of money that many still associate with