A small collection of bitcoin enthusiasts met in New York yesterday to drag the high-tech virtual currency back into the eighteenth century through face-to-face trading.
Invoking the 1792 Buttonwood Agreement which started the New York stock Exchange & Board, IT worker and bitcoin fan Josh Rossi used Reddit earlier this week to invite people to gather in Union Square Park on Monday to buy and sell the currency.
Around 20 people turned up for the 'opening bell' and several bitcoins were traded for cash, with mobile phone cameras and QR codes used to transfer coins between accounts, according to the New York Times.
Explaining his old-fashioned approach, Rossi told Reddit that "the benefits over an electronic exchange are obvious, but I'll list a few:
- No waiting for cash to get into exchange
- No waiting for account verification
- Distributed, no central point of failure
- Cash immediately in hand
- Can't be closed by banks
- Lag is basically non-existent, as are bots."
Despite Redditors raising some concerns about the legality of the meet-up and the attractiveness to thieves of a group of cash-holding geeks congregating (as well as the odd hipster jibe), the event passed off successfully, if quietly.
Rossi intends to return next Monday and is working on a realtime order book Web app to make it easier to buy and sell at fair prices.