Eleena Tan of Hero Subs who uses bitcoin virtual money. Photo: Simon Schluter
A Melbourne food franchise has become the first in the world to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.
Hero Subs, which has stores in the Melbourne CBD and Chadstone Shopping Centre, specialises in baguettes and is now allowing customers to buy products using the digital currency.
Kidroyale sandwich topped with onion rings from Hero Subs. Photo: Eddie Jim
Eleena Tan, who launched the business with her husband in September last year, said: ''We're really excited about the bitcoin phenomenon. We're trying to help the public pick up this kind of currency.''
Tan said she had had difficulties dealing with Eftpos in the past, but the bitcoin payment system was quick and easy to set up.
''With the bitcoin payment system you can set it up in a day,'' she said. ''We found it really, really simple to execute.''
Customers need only to use their smartphone and a bitcoin wallet app to make a purchase.
As part of its plan to get Melburnians using digital currency instead of cash or cards, Hero Subs is offering a 50 per cent discount to customers using bitcoin. The business will also introduce a ''Bitcoin Sub'' later in the month, only available to those paying by bitcoin.
Mark Koh, communications strategist for Hero Subs, said the business's first store - at RMIT University - would be well placed to entice a younger, tech-savvy generation onto digital currencies.
''At the moment bitcoin is a small market but we want to show it's viable for other businesses,'' he said. ''Bitcoin in America has gotten very big. It's not just viable but profitable.''
The bitcoin's value has fluctuated greatly since its introduction in 2009. One bitcoin is currently worth more than $600.