Bitcoiners visiting London no longer have to stray into the fiat world to pay for their accommodation. A chain of hostels in the UK capital is now accepting payments in both bitcoin and litecoin.
Clink Hostels, which owns two hostels in central London, including one in a former courthouse, began accepting the currency last month.
Dave Double, sales manager for Clink, encouraged the move towards bitcoin payments and is heavily involved in digital currencies, mining litecoin, qubitcoins, vertcoin and dogecoin – the latter of which he admits has problems in a business environment:
“It’s catchy because it’s a fun coin, but getting my CEO to take dogecoin seriously is difficult when the bank balance is at stake.”
Travellers have much to gain from using bitcoin, primarily in the avoidance of currency conversion fees.
In 2013, Austin Craig and Beccy Bingham-Craig spent 100 days living on bitcoin alone and travelling the world.
They told CoinDesk at the time that not having to worry about using a different currency in each country was a refreshing change. Double echoed those sentiments, saying:
“We love the idea that people from around the world can travel at the same exchange rate regardless of how rich or poor a country you’re in.”
At the moment Clink uses a straightforward QR code system for receiving payments, so travellers pay bitcoin straight to Clink’s wallet, but they are intending to use a third-party payment processor and “leaning towards Coinbase”.
Time and time again, small businesses that accept bitcoin cite one major problem with the use of digital currencies: public confidence in the currency.
Clink Hostels is no different. Double says that issues about converting bitcoin into fiat currency and vice-versa are no longer big problems for business – relatively mature payment processors like BitPay and Coinbase have resolved this question.
However, volatility and high-profile cases linking cryptocurrencies with incompetence, criminality and deceit continue to weigh on the minds of business owners, says Double:
“Volatility in the exchange rate puts [businesses] off as it seems complicated to make sure you get a good price for your product. Of course, this is [not true], as you can convert straight away, but things like Silk Road haven’t helped.”
From Double’s perspective, businesses will begin to feel more comfortable about getting into the bitcoin arena when there’s greater government clarity on bitcoin regulation and on bitcoin taxation, which we’re beginning to see.
For now, Clink gets to hold the crown of being the first hostel in the UK to accept bitcoin – something that gives them the edge, not over physical competitors, but online booking sites like booking.com.
“They can’t tap into [this community] at the moment,” says Double.
Perhaps, but with travel companies waking up to the potential of bitcoin, Clink won’t be alone for long.