June 12, 2013

Bitcoin is edging ever-closer to mainstream relevancy. Already, late last year, a European Bitcoin exchange announced it secured a license to operate as a payments service provider. The exchange, Bitcoin-Central, also announced its users accounts would be protected by the French equivalent of the FDIC (although many of the libertarians who staunchly advocate the use of the virtual currency precisely because it isn't associated with any central bank or government might not welcome that development).

This week, news from England has come that a chain of pubs run by a former Cambridge University scientist has started accepting Bitcoins in exchange for pints of beer.

According to Cabume, a tech news site covering the Cambridge, U.K. area, the owner of the pubs is a former Cambridge University computer scientist named Stephen Early. From Cabume:

Early installed the system, and in testing it conducted what he believes was probably the first pub transaction using Bitcoin anywhere in the UK. The pub was listed on a web site tracking where people can spend Bitcoins, which piqued the interest of fans who quickly discovered that other pubs were owned by the same company, Individual Pubs Ltd, one of which was The Pembury Tavern in Hackney, London.

Whether Bitcoin can ever become a currency that truly rivals the widespread use of regulated fiat money is obviously debatable. But what isn't is that Bitcoin is more than a passing fad, or just something to be mocked as a black market currency for drug dealers. Maybe one day in the not so distant future, we will be discussing how far it's come over a pint -- purchased with our Bitcoins, of course.

[Related: The Bitcoin Bubble Explained, Colbert-Style (Video) ]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...