Goodwill Will Be Able to Accept Bitcoins Via Revel Terminals

Feb 11, 2014 7:11 pm ET

(Updates with Goodwill comment in last paragraph.)

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Shoppers may soon be able to make purchases using Bitcoins in an unlikely place: the thrift store.

Goodwill, a collective of nonprofits that operate several thousand stores selling secondhand items, will have the option to accept Bitcoins in some locations via payment terminals from Revel Systems Inc., a San Francisco startup. Revel is adding a Bitcoin button to its point-of-sale system, which is currently used in 23 Goodwill stores.

Revel, which has deployed a total of 7,000 terminals at supermarkets, pizza places and yogurt shops, added the Bitcoin option after customers began demanding it, co-founder Chris Ciabarra said in an interview. The company’s point-of-sale systems, which are built around Apple Inc.’s iPad, already let shoppers pay with cash and credit cards. Bitcoin was a logical next step, Ciabarra said.

“We’ve had clients who’ve asked for it,” he said. “It’s all customer input -- it’s the demand.”

The move lends support to Bitcoin at a turbulent time for the virtual currency. Bitstamp, one of the currency’s biggest online exchanges, suspended Bitcoin withdrawals today, saying it had suffered a cyberattack. Mt.Gox, another exchange, said last week that it had stopped withdrawals because of a technical problem, triggering an 8 percent decline in the value of Bitcoins.

Bitcoin Backlash

The governments of India, China and Russia have sought to ban or limit the use of Bitcoins, which exist as software and aren’t controlled by any central authority. U.S.-based exchanges have either closed at the behest of law enforcement or had difficulties obtaining business bank accounts because of regulatory uncertainty.

Still, the currency appeals to some retailers because it lets them save money on credit-card processing charges.

“It’s very low fees, and we receive our payments faster than the average,” said Revel customer Evelyn Fong, co-owner of Five Markets grocery store in San Francisco. Five Markets has been using Revel since last March.

Revel’s terminals also are used by more than 100 Pizza Patron Inc. stores and select Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc., Tesla Motors Inc. and Belkin International Inc. locations. Each retailer will have to decide whether to use Bitcoin on an individual basis, Revel said.

Goodwill Industries International Inc., based in Rockville, Maryland, represents 165 non-profits that make their own decisions on what payment technology to deploy, said Charlene Sarmiento, a spokeswoman for the group.

--Editors: Reed Stevenson, Ari Levy