First: The Pizza Guys is the first outlet in the region to accept bitcoin payments Image Credit:

Dubai A pizza restaurant in Dubai, the first retailer to accept bitcoin payments in the region, has carried out over 50 transactions using the virtual currency in six months, its owners said.

Amber Haq, who runs The Pizza Guys at Business Bay, told XPRESS she was motivated to embrace bitcoins due to many benefits over traditional currency.

Haq said: “Bitcoin is a software-based online payment system using its own bitcoin unit of account. It is a peer-to-peer transaction which does not require a third party intermediary. Unlike credit cards where you need to get verification from the bank and pay a merchant’s fee, there are no borders, time or value limits with bitcoins. The system is very transparent as every payment is recorded in a public ledger.”

But how does it work?

To begin with, Haq said a customer needs to have a device like an android phone with a bitcoin wallet software. “The application is available on Google Play. You would then need to purchase the bitcoin currency from the currency exchange bitstamp.net. Once purchased, you can deposit this amount in your wallet. As a merchant, I too have a similar android phone and a wallet and can convert dirhams into bitcoins.

“So when a customer orders say, a margarita pizza for Dh44, The Pizza Guys issues a ‘QR’ code which the customer scans and then transfers equivalent bitcoins from his wallet into the restaurant’s wallet. The transaction is instant, so it saves a lot of time.”

Haq said the advantages of bitcoins have seen a gradual rise in the number of its users worldwide. “Around 99 per cent of our customers who use bitcoins are first-time users. We get a lot of interesting customers because we accept this mode of payment.”

In terms of value, the bitcoin price index determines the currency’s rate on a daily basis. As of June 28, its unit value was equivalent to $577.62.