Do you need a taxi and don’t have cash or a credit card? Well if you’re in Hungary’s capital Budapest you’re in luck if you hold some bitcoin.
It is the latest city where you can use the virtual currency to pay your cab driver.
Bitcoin is known for several things – the volatility of its value against traditional currencies and fact that the electronic transactions are anonymous, which has led to accusations it could be used for criminal activity.
András Lőwy is the chief executive of COinPAY, the company which has set up the taxi pay scheme. He told euronews he is just trying to be helpful: “Our company wants those with bitcoins to be able to spend them on services, products, in shops, because it creates business and it helps those who need that service.”
Lőwy believes this kind of legitimate commercial use of bitcoins should help improve its reputation.
For now it works in 580 cabs in Budapest. Csaba Horváth, the managing director of Budapest Taxi, does not think many of their passengers will be using bitcoins to pay but didn’t want to miss out: “We believe that we have to grab every opportunity that comes along, to take advantage of any innovation, and if one of those becomes very successful, we can say we were the first to use it.”
In reality few Hungarians have even heard of bitcoin but it is estimated there is about 25 million euros worth of the virtual currency held by its citizens.
Euronews correspondent Andrea Hajagos said: “In Budapest there are already several bitcoin cash dispensers. Many have criticised this sort of payment saying it’s linked to the black economy, but others point out it is very innovative.”