From ATMs to real estate, Bitcoin goes mainstream in Bay Area

- Local businesses in Tampa Bay are cashing in on Bitcoin.

The digital currency's value has exploded in 2017 - going from $800 around the first of January to a trade value of around $17,000 almost a year later.

Sand Key Realty hopes to cash in on Bitcoin while changing the way houses are bought and sold in the Bay Area and the entire world. 

Nehad Alhassan says his company is listing a $4 million waterfront home in Bellaire Shores that can be paid for in cash or Bitcoin.

"We have to think outside the box,” Alhassan said. “We have to open up the market and bring in other buyers internationally.”

Bitcoin is a decentralized currency on a peer-to-peer global network, so there is no bank. Each person has their own digital, encrypted wallet.

Bitcoins are earned through a process referred to as mining through a network of computers processing algorithms.

"You use a lot of electricity to mine gold, same thing with computers doing the calculations,"  Alhassan said.

Major companies are starting to invest and accept payment through Bitcoin.

Ferg's in downtown St. Petersburg is also getting in on the Bitcoin action. 

Owner Mark Ferguson said he's installed a Bitcoin ATM which allows his customers to purchase the digital currency in cash. He says soon at his restaurant you'll be able to buy a burger or a beer in Bitcoin.

"Bitcoin is going to go through the roof when a lot more merchants accept it,” Ferguson said. “When everyone is accepting it, it's going to be very valuable."

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