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Despite drawbacks, Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies slowly but surely making their way to brick-and-mortar stores- report

January 27
8:02 AM 2014

As the Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies become more popular, an increasing number of brick-and-mortar merchants are considering accepting the digital currency, HP security and payments expert Slava Gomzin wrote in his guest post on VentureBeat.

There are many well-known advantages of using the digital currency. One is the limited anonymity that it provides. Unless you want to exchange your Bitcoins for dollars, crypto-currency gives you independence from traditional financial institutions. It is also decentralized-that means no one controls the switch unless the client software is hacked. Finally, Bitcoins offer a quick, reliable and cheap way to transfer money, Gomzin said.

There are also downsides to the use of Bitcoin. One includes having to shoulder the transaction fees yourself if you're a sender. Transactions, even if they are fraudulent, cannot also be undone or even disputed. A third disadvantage is that virtual wallets may also be breached, the report said.

For Gomzin, however, the question is if Bitcoin technology will be able to stand up to the scrutiny of real retailers.

One of the things that could hinder the mainstream acceptance of crypto-currencies is the unsure method of computing the transaction fee. In traditional retail payments, the seller takes care of the fees. So even if the average fee is for Bitcoin payments is lower than credit or debit cards, the buyer may still wonder why he or she will have to pay in Bitcoin if paying by plastic will be cheaper. This is especially the case for micropayments when the transaction fee is almost the same as the purchase amount, Gomzin said.

There's also the concern of security. When it comes to traditional electronic payments, the domains of confidentiality, integrity and availability are all required for security. However, the security of the Bitcoin ecosystem is such that it its availability is still out of scope, the report said.

Despite its limitations, Gomzin said he likes the idea, design, technology and taste of freedom the Bitcoin gives and that the crypto-currency will eventually resolve all its problems.

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