A gas station in the US now lets customers fill up with bitcoin, making it likely to be the first business that allows the purchase of fossil fuel using cryptocurrency.
The station has completed eight transactions since it began accepting bitcoin at the start of January, according to the store's owner, Shahzad Sarwar.
“I started taking bitcoin, above all, to support the bitcoin community,” he said.
The gas station, in Greeley, Colorado, is called Cosmic Market and also has a convenience store attached. Here you will find proof of Sarwar's fervent support for the digital currency writ large on the wall. “Bitcoin accepted here. Take the power back. Let the banks eat cake!” a poster proudly proclaims.
The number of Cosmic Market customers that have the ability to pay in bitcoin is tiny right now, but they are certainly happy that such a service exists. When Sarwar announced his unique ability to take bitcoin payments for fuel, one redditor commented on the thread:
“I have bought gas from here using bitcoin. I feel lucky living so close to one of the first gas stations in the country to accept bitcoin.”
It’s not just ideology that led Sarwar to start bitcoin transactions, though. Bitcoin payments could also potentially save him a significant amount on credit card transaction fees, he said.
Sarwar has a day job as a software engineer; the Cosmic Market is just a sideline and ending up as a gas station owner was never part of his life plan.
“I bought the store out of pure stupidity,” he said. “But I have learned a lot since. The gas station business is very competitive and it is very hard to make money,” he said.
As the first gas station owner to accept digital currency, it’s perhaps not surprising that Sarwar thinks differently in other ways too.
The strategy he has employed to increase profits at the Cosmic Market is to expand the retail floor space from 320 to 2,500 sq ft, and to stock what he calls ‘unique items', such as insect candy and colourful smoking paraphernalia.
How about four wafers coated in white chocolate and studded with milk chocolate-covered ants? “It’s disgusting but I know you want one!” Sarwar wrote on the Cosmic Market blog.
“It’s just for fun and to make customers smile,” he said of the novelty snack. And if the urge takes you, you can buy that with bitcoin too, he adds.
Last July, CoinDesk asked whether bitcoin would ever be used at gas pumps. Shahzad Sarwar has now made that a reality.
Gas pump image by Shutterstock