Now, in Poland, they can also be used for healthcare.
A dentist in Kielce in central Poland is offering a 10% discount for customers who pay with bitcoin. Profident, which also makes dental equipment, says it is Poland’s and possibly Europe’s first dental clinic to accept bitcoin payments.
As with other bitcoin-accepting businesses in other parts of the world, the company cited bank transaction fees as a reason to move towards bitcoin payments.
“I have 60% of payments via debit or credit cards, and it is growing. In my country fees are very high, around 2% of transaction value. Because of this fact I lose lot of money. Bitcoin will change this situation,” said Profident’s Tomasz Zbożeń.
A string of Polish organisations have begun to embrace bitcoin, including social media agencies, web design companies and a free market think-tank. The government is yet to issue coherent guidance on the use of bitcoin, but a policy document released in July said bitcoin is not currency under Polish Law.
Just this week, Polish bitcoin exchange Bidextreme.pl was compromised, with hackers emptying the bitcoin and litecoin wallets of the exchange’s users. The amount stolen has not yet been made public.
Healthcare is one area that is yet to have been properly penetrated by bitcoin, but a few people around the world have had a crack at combining bitcoin with online healthcare.
The Virtual Doctor Project, which uses teleconferencing to connect doctors with patients in remote areas of Africa, is one, while a 2012 bitcointalk.org thread named ‘Medical Consult for Bitcoins’ is another, perhaps on the other end of the credibility spectrum from the Virtual Doctor Project.
However, not everyone’s impressed. A more recent example, CoinMD, was called “the absolute worst place on Earth to spend your bitcoins” by Wired.com.
Profident began accepting bitcoins on 18th November and do not use a payments service, instead operating their own wallet directly. Zbożeń says he isn’t fazed by the technology and would only consider using a payment company if a lot of customers start paying with bitcoin.
“Outside of the dental business, I mine bitcoins and keep them as an investment diversification. I use BTC also for payments (but I prefer to save and keep bitcoins rather than to spend them),” he said. “[So] I don’t consider bitcoin payments a hassle.”
So far, the dentist hasn’t had any patients paying with bitcoin, but Zbożeń is confident about the rising popularity of bitcoin in Poland.
“Right now, [accepting bitcoin payments] is more a marketing issue, but I believe that cryptocurrency will get much more popular in next decade,” he says. “The growth [in Poland] is exponential.”