The traditional favourite snack of late night revellers - the currywurst, or curried sausage – has just entered the digital world. It can now be paid for using the cryptocurrency bitcoin in Switzerland.
The Wurst & Moritzexternal link company has responded to repeated demand from customers to spend their hard-earned bitcoins in its restaurants in Zurich and Bern. With the price of a single bitcoin reaching nearly $5,000external link in recent days, that makes a currywurst worth 0.0019 bitcoins (CHF8).
“We have reached a tipping point in the number of recurring bitcoin users in Switzerland. So we decided to be one of the early adopters in servicing that demand. There is no way back now – bitcoin is here to stay,” Wurst & Moritz boss Samuel Manz told swissinfo.ch.
The first day of cryptocurrency trading saw "a handful" of sausages sold for bitcoin - which Manz sees as encouraging.
Working out the exchange rate between the volatile bitcoin price and francs is remarkably easy, according to Manz, as is the process of making the transaction.
“All customers need is a digital wallet and accompanying app,” he said. “We work out the bitcoin price and make the sale in seconds. You don’t have to be a technical superhero to work it out. A year ago, this would not have been possible, but it’s very simple now.”
There are, in actual fact, dozens upon dozens of outletsexternal link that accept bitcoin payments in Switzerland. These range from cuisine, art, dental work, watches, business consultancy, IT and even local government services in canton Zug.
Earlier this summer, one enterprising home owner put his holiday villa up for sale in bitcoin in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. This is all perfectly legal as the Swiss financial regulator recognises bitcoin as a legitimate means of payment.
But despite the growing enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies, the bitcoin retail trade still barely registers in Switzerland, according to Bitcoin Association Switzerland. Most cryptocurrency holders see bitcoin, ether, litecoin and the like as a promising investment opportunity – preferring to hoard their digital assets and watch them (hopefully) grow in value.
It may therefore take some time before conservative Switzerland catches up with Japan, which is establishing itself as the global leader in bitcoin retail therapy.