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How one Toronto agency is using Bitcoin

The digital currency was unveiled in 2009 by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers. Supply is capped at 21 million Bitcoins and managed by a software algorithm embedded into the digital currency’s design, rather than a monetary authority such as a central bank. Getty Images

Cash, cheques, credit cards and Interac transactions are typical methods of payment, but now for one Canadian advertising agency, Bitcoin can be added to that list.

Toronto advertising agency hqvb, recently announced that it would accept Bitcoin as tender, becoming one of the first Canadian businesses to do so.

Chris Hall, the president of hqvb said the conversation started when a colleague mentioned that he wished he had bought the currency when it was worth less. That sparked research and the decision to accept Bitcoin as payment.

“We decided [we] should take Bitcoin because we’re an entrepreneurial, forward-thinking, digital-thinking agency. It’s a great demonstration of how we can work in our business,” says Hall.

Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency and offers worldwide payments, zero or very low processing fees and can be transferred from person to person without going through a bank or other financial institution. As it’s not regulated, speculation can (and has) caused fluctuation in value.

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“We researched the best wallet to get, the different exchanges, we got a couple of Bitcoins and we’re in discussion with a couple of clients about doing services for them,” says Hall. The agency hasn’t started a Bitcoin-financed project yet.

WATCH: 16×9 preview on Bitcoin

Part of that research includes scoping out the price of a project in Canadian dollars and converting it to the Bitcoin value of the day. For hqvb, it’s a win-win situation and it’s in the position to take risks with the new currency.

“For someone that is experimenting and using Bitcoin, they can pay us when Bitcoin is worth less than the service costs. So they can realize savings by being smart with it.” Thanks to endorsements from the U.S. (but with a need to be regulated) and Chinese governments, Bitcoin jumped from $300 to $1,000 per coin in less than a week.

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Hall says hqvb will peg the cost of a project on the day they start work. Their clients would have the standard 30-60 day billing cycle but would be able to pay on a day when the Bitcoin is worth more, but would cost them less Bitcoin.

Hall and other hqvb employees have been talking to clients who are familiar with Bitcoin but he says it gets interesting when talking to clients who aren’t as familiar with the currency.

“You almost become a Bitcoin ambassador,” says Hill. “You say, we’ve got this scenario if you’d like to try to it out.”

“As we explore and do it with people who are knowledgeable and learn together with them, we can feel comfortable taking it to a larger marketplace so we can introduce an interesting advantage that people haven’t thought of.”

Bitcoin a growing payment trend worldwide

Local Vancouverites can now use Bitcoin at a number of local businesses are including the Sweet Tooth Café on East Hastings and Blenz on Seymour and Robson. Vancouver is also home to a physical Bitcoin exchange called Bitcoiniacs.

READ MORE: Vancouver businesses jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, announced last week that Virgin Galactic – his space subsidiary – will accept Bitcoins as payment.

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In the release, Branson describes Virgin Galactic as “one of the universe’s most exciting, futuristic companies.”

The Pink Cow, a Tokyo-based restaurant, also allows people to pay with Bitcoin.

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