St. Louis is building a reputation for being a home for innovative businesses. But this week, innovation of a different sort took place - an innovative business practice.
According to coinmap.org, an interactive map that tracks businesses that accept Bitcoin worldwide, Articulate Ventures is one of five businesses in the St. Louis region that currently accepts the currency.
"The reason we started doing this was to try it out as an experiment to see what Bitcoin was like and to see what it was like to enter into the economy of Bitcoin. And I've gotta tell you, it was a little sticky because we were trying to convert cash into Bitcoins and have Bitcoins be the currency that we transferred, and we figured out that it takes a bit of time to convert U.S. dollars into Bitcoin," said Vance Crowe. He founded communications/negotiations firm Articulate Ventures a year ago.
Despite the involved conversion process and the volatile price index, Crowe is a proponent of Bitcoin because it removes the third party transaction fees from credit cards and banks.
Confused yet? You're not alone. Lack of universal understanding is another barrier to common use.
For a visual explanation of how the "decentralized digital currency" Bitcoin works, watch this video created by weusecoins.org.
It's all well and good to say your firm accepts Bitcoin, but nothing comes of it unless someone agrees to pay you with it. Which is where Paradigm New Media stepped in.
"We've been working in digital media for 18 years now, " said Michael Huber, managing principal and creative director of Paradigm. "What was really intriguing about Bitcoin was that we could actually exchange services, goods and services through a completely digital currency."
Until Bitcoin becomes more widely accepted, there's not much Crowe can do with his Bitcoin earnings. And with the fluctuating value of Bitcoin, he could be looking at a loss. But he was willing to conduct this $3,000 experiment because he sees potential in Bitcoin, for himself, and for St. Louis.
"St. Louis has the opportunity to get the leading edge in Bitcoin. They really could do that if a lot of people would take it seriously here," said Crowe.