All of our pubs accept Bitcoin over the counter.
At the moment we offer payment by Bitcoin using the exchange rate supplied by the bitpay.com rate API. We fetch this twice per day; we don't call them for every transaction. (This changed from the previous formula on 22nd August 2013; the previous formula relied too heavily on mtgox and was producing rates we were in practice unable to obtain through bitstamp.)
So far, we have received payments successfully from the following wallet applications:
The choice of Bitcoin apps on Apple devices appears to be severely restricted. They have removed Bitcoin apps from the store in the past.
Bitcoin processing is provided to Individual Pubs Ltd by Stephen Early acting as a sole trader. (Full disclosure: Stephen Early is also a director of Individual Pubs Ltd.) The pub company's accounts are entirely in Sterling; Stephen Early might make a profit or a loss on providing this service.
Steve runs the bitcoin-qt daemon on a server in a datacenter. This server is connected to all of our pubs via a VPN. On the same server, he runs a custom web service written in Python using the Django web framework that accepts requests from the pub company's tills and interfaces with the bitcoin-qt daemon using the bitcoin-python library.
When a till needs to request Bitcoins for a transaction, it sends a request to the web service. The web service looks up the current exchange rate and stores it, and fetches a fresh Bitcoin address from the Bitcoin daemon; a bitcoin: URL is returned to the till requesting payment. The till converts the URL to a QR code and displays it. The till then makes the same request whenever it needs to check whether the transaction has been paid; the web service either returns a bitcoin: URL requesting the balance of the payment, or a "success" result.
(Our till software is written in Python and runs on Ubuntu in text mode. Yes, the QR codes are being displayed using Unicode block characters!)
When the till is being closed at the end of the day, it sends a request to the web service listing the transactions it believes have been paid by Bitcoin. The web service responds with the Sterling total that is due to the pub for those transactions; hopefully this matches the amount the till is expecting! A reconciliation record is created in the web service, and all the transactions named by the till are marked as Reconciled. At this point, Steve pays the pub company the total amount in Sterling for those transactions.
Once a sufficient number of Bitcoins have been accumulated in reconciled transactions, Steve uses an external service to convert them to Sterling. If the amount received in Sterling is greater than the amount paid to the pub company, Steve records a profit. If it is lower, Steve records a loss. At the end of the tax year, Steve will pay tax in Sterling based on the total profit or loss in the year.
I became aware of Bitcoin sometime in 2010, and followed news about it irregularly. I bought myself some Bitcoins using the now-defunct "britcoin" exchange in June 2011, but then didn't do anything with them for ages. Bitcoin being in the news in the first couple of months of 2013 reminded me.
Let's take a step back for a moment and talk about accepting cards.
We currently have cordless card terminals: we have one or two behind the bar, and we take them over to wherever the customer is standing to deal with the payment. The workflow for a card transaction looks something like this:
At the end of the day, each card machine produces a totals receipt. We add together the totals on all the receipt and hope it matches up with what the till thinks we took! Quite often, it doesn't - someone will have made a mistake entering transaction or cashback amounts at some point in the day.
What I would like to happen when accepting cards is for the till to transfer the transaction total over the network to the card machine, and for the card machine to send a response at the end of the transaction with the cashback amount and receipt number. This would remove the need for values to be copied across manually. It sounds like a small change - but I can't find anybody who will sell me equipment that does this! It clearly exists because I see it in supermarkets, large chain pubs, and so on - I just suspect that my company is seen as too small to be worth selling to.
Let's compare this to the workflow for accepting Bitcoin:
At the end of the day, the Bitcoin total is generated automatically. It's all much easier for our staff, and with much less scope for human error.
So, why did I decide to accept Bitcoin? Because it let me build the kind of system that I wanted to build for accepting cards, but couldn't.
I started testing with my own Bitcoins on 23rd May in Norwich. (While I was developing the software [which was only a couple of days] I made use of testnet3.) The first Bitcoin transaction that involved a third-party took place on 1st June at the Pembury Tavern in Hackney; this is the one mentioned on Reddit here.
Short answer? Not many, but more than I expected - in the first two weeks we took about £750-worth of Bitcoins. It's settled down to about £1000-worth per month, so it's only a small part of the business. It's obviously still enthusiasts who have heard about it on the net!
(Updated) There are a few; have a look at coinmap.org. See also this interesting article and video about Bitcoin in Berlin in the Guardian.
Just a bit!
At this point I stopped keeping a list!
Sure, if they haven't already been answered on this page.
Yes. They are not currently interesting to me.
No, I'm not.
Yes. Replacing it is on the List!