Cryptocurrency in San Antonio: How locals are using bitcoin

Bitcoin not tied to any government, bank

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The cryptocurrency bitcoin will gain more status next month when it will begin trading as a futures commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The price of one bitcoin reached a record high of more than $8,000 this week.

Several San Antonio individuals and businesses are huge supporters of the electronic currency.

Alex Eaton pays his entire life through the electronic currency.

“You don’t have to have a bank account to have bitcoin. You can literally download a bitcoin wallet on any phone,” he said.

Within minutes, Eaton can make a transaction anywhere in the world anonymously.

“This is the future. It’s a decentralized technology,” he said.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency that exists only on the internet. It does not belong to a government agency or a bank. It was created in 2008 and has grown in use and popularity in a decade.

 VIDEO: How bitcoins work in the real world

Paras Arora, with LOL Liquor, has a BTM Exchange Machine in his store in which bitcoin users buy or sell bitcoins. People can also buy anything in his store using any of the major cryptocurrencies. 

“I’m doing transactions every day, for liquor store goods, renting a U-Haul with it,” he said. “My first transaction this morning was a crypto transaction, actually.”

Each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a data system called a blockchain. It helps ensure that the same bitcoin is not used more than once and keeps track of how much currency is floating around the world. Miners help keep track of the data, and people such as Arora help support the system by having computers mining around the clock. Miners also earn bitcoins for their support.

“All my crypto earnings, I put them in a separate account,” he said. “It stays in there for a couple of years and it all quadruples.”

Clayton Saliba, with George Plumbing, accepts bitcoin payments. He said no one has offered to pay with them yet, but he wants to support them and believes in the network.

“It’s an exciting technology, and it’s the way of the future,” Saliba said.

Saliba uses the same data recording system, or blockchain, format to create a side business that will help support the health industry.  

“When something like this has the ability to change society like the internet did, that’s when it gets really exciting,” Saliba said.

Eaton and everyone who uses bitcoins understand it’s a risky investment because it’s still so new and volatile, but they believe in a system that is not tied to a government or banking system.

There are about 17 million bitcoins circulating around the world. There were only 21 million set to ever exist. Bitcoin was the original cryptocurrency, but there are hundreds of others that have been created.

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