A Brigham Young University-approved housing company is now allowing students to pay their deposits and rent in bitcoin.
EdgeCreek Property Management owns the Nauvoo House, Mountain Pines and Central Park Rexburg complexes near to BYU Idaho and all are now accepting payment in the digital currency. The company is also accepting bitcoin as payment for the Village on the Parkway accommodation, which is close to Utah Valley University.
Daniel Larson, of EdgeCreek Property Management, said he started paying attention to the bitcoin scene about 18 months ago, but his company began looking into it as a form of payment about three or four months ago.
He went on to say: "We understand that the generation that we're renting to is probably the most likely to deal in bitcoin and we wanted to give them another way to pay their rent.
"Also, we love what bitcoin represents from a freedom standpoint – there are no governments manipulating its value – and we want to help make it a viable currency."
Larson explained the only way this can be achieved is if there is an increase in the goods and services people pay for with bitcoin.
Students can't pay with bitcoin directly via the website. They have to email Larson, who will arrange the transaction with them. "At this point, we don't see this as a payment option that will be used very often so we will just deal with bitcoin payments on an as-needed basis. If it becomes more popular, we'll work out an automation plan," he explained.
Reactions within the bitcoin community to this move have been mostly positive, with members stating that it further legitimises the currency. However, some are surprised a company associated with BYU, which is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is interested in bitcoin.
One notable BYU graduate is Austin Craig, who, with his wife Beccy Bingham Craig, is living on bitcoin for 90 days for the Life on Bitcoin documentary. Craig and his wife live in Provo, Utah, and are Mormons.
"Fear, avoidance, or shunning of technology might be true of some faiths, but it definitely is not true of the Mormons," he said.
"It seems to be a persistent misconception about the Mormons, particularly that we're still wearing bonnets and pulling handcarts to settle the West. It's an easy mistake to make, I guess. But nothing could be further from the truth."
Craig went on to say his faith teaches him to be productive, work hard and take care of himself, his family and fellow man. "Technology empowers people to do more and be more productive. If I can use technology to work more efficiently and effectively, I'll take it."
He explained that Utah, a stronghold of the Mormon faith, is home to a growing tech scene.
Craig Huntzinger, who runs the honey products business Bees Brothers with his three sons in Cache Valley, Utah, agrees that the state is becoming something of a tech hub.
"There is a lot of technology in Utah in many different fields of science and electronics," he explained.
Huntzinger believes bitcoin has the potential to thrive in Utah, as many people in the state are into self-reliance and care about independence. Back in March 2011, a law was passed in Utah that directed the legislature to study an "alternative form of legal tender", which suggests the state is ready to turn its back on the dollar and is open to accepting a new currency.
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