'Part of the future' - City business to start accepting cryptocurrencies

The Den to start accepting cryptocurrency payments in Norwich

William Wickes (left) with James Lloyd-Palmer, who will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments at The Den, a barbershop in Norwich Lanes - Credit: Archant

A Norwich business is set to embrace the future by accepting cryptocurrency as payment for its services. 

The Den, in Lower Goat Lane, will begin welcoming this form of payment as of this week, becoming one of the first independent business in Norwich to do so.

The business hopes to capitalise on the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies, while also offering an opportunity for people to spend their money in the high street.

The Den accepting cryptocurrency

Mr Lloyd-Palmer and Mr Wickes, of The Den, will start accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, becoming one of the first independent businesses in Norwich to do so - Credit: Archant

James Lloyd-Palmer, 32, who opened The Den in 2013, said: "When I first started everyone paid with cash. Over the past few years this has changed dramatically and now everyone pays with card. Cryptocurrency seems likely to be the next big shift in how we pay so it seems the next logical step to embrace this new form of banking.

"From a business point of view, transactions using cryptocurrency are instant, whereas card payments can take three to four days to be cleared through high street banks."  

William Wicks, 25, a fellow barber at The Den, said: "We both have cryptocurrency and we know a number of people who use it. There's very limited number of places you can actually spend it so we thought it was a good incentive to start accepting it ourselves.

"A large portion of our client base is students and young people, who are the biggest users of cryptocurrency, so it's another way of engaging with them and offering payment options to suit their lifestyle." 

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What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital means of exchange made possible by blockchain technology. The medium is entirely digital and uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units.

Blockchain technology uses high-powered computers to verify transactions, with cryptocurrency offered as a reward. 

Cryptocurrencies can be bought using traditional currencies such as Stirling and can then be used to purchase goods or services. 

It is decentralised, so it has the same value in any country, making person-to-person transfers around the world easier.

Only a limited number of each cryptocurrency exists, likening it to the digital equivalent of gold.

There are a number of different cryptocurrencies available, which can be accessed online via apps, which have live feeds of the latest cost of the digital currency. 

Making payments to other crypto-wallets is incredibly simple and can be done simply by scanning a QR code on the account holder's phone. 

Cryptocurrency can be a volatile financial market, and in recent years there has been big fluctuations in value. Although this means there is an opportunity for high gains with small investments.

The price of cryptocurrency has also begun to stabilise, making it a more appealing option for businesses.

The use of cryptocurrency is a growing trend across the world. Recently the New York City mayor-elect, Eric Adams, spoke of his wish for the American city to become a crypto-friendly hub, and has pledged to explore how the currencies can be used more in everyday life by New Yorkers. 

The Den to offer cryptocurrency payments

Currently there are very few places accepting cryptocurrencies, and Mr Lloyd-Palmer and Mr Wickes of Norwich barber shop, The Den, are excited to begin offering this option - Credit: Archant

Alongside New York, could Norwich become a new hub for cryptocurrency?

Mr Lloyd-Palmer and Mr Wicks hope that by accepting the digital currency, it could encourage greater awareness and inspire other businesses to also look into it.

Mr Wicks said: "People see it as this unknown. In reality, it's just another alternative to any other financial transaction.

"We definitely want to encourage other businesses to look into it. The industry is only going to develop further so if we catch it early, who knows where we will be in five, ten years. It could become the de-facto payment for some people in the future."

For Mr Lloyd-Palmer, it's not clear whether customers are ready to embrace the new currency but its a chance he is willing to take.

"We don't know what the response will be. We've been trying to broach the subject with customers and some are pretty intrigued.

"We're excited to test the waters and if it brings a few customers in and there's interest then great, but if not we haven't lost anything."