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Wellington Startup Weekend on bitcoin bandwagon

Punters can get their tickets for the upcoming Wellington Startup Weekend using Bitcoin, in what the organisers believe is the first acceptance of the e-currency among the global events.

Co-organisers Dave Moskovitz and Paul Spence set up a digital wallet to accept the payments, bypassing traditional ticket sales on the Eventbrite site, which doesn’t support bitcoin.

“I think Bitcoin is pretty topical at the moment,” says Moskovitz. “It’s something a number of us on the organising committee have been following for a number of years.”

The organisers would welcome participants with ideas in the digital currency space, he adds, saying there’s as much potential to innovate around the bitcoin mining protocol as the currency itself. The protocol uses a block chain of transactions, time stamping each block to prove the sequence of events.

It has potential for use in securing domain names and verifying changes made during group management of electronic documents, says Moskovitz.

“Alternative currencies, micropayments, crowfunding, fraud-blocking, virtual banking … there’s been a lot of discussion over the years about financial innovations and new payment systems,” the organisers say in a blog. “Will there one day be a paradigm shift that disrupts the face of banking and e-commerce for ever? Could we launch a company like that from New Zealand? There’s a bunch of experienced entrepreneurs and mentors coming to Startup Weekend who’d love to help you find out.”

Bitcoin ticket buyers email their details and Bitcoin wallet address to the organisers. The ticket is issued once the transaction appears in the bitcoin blockchain.

Organisers decided on a value of 0.07 because it was the equivalent value of a discounted developer ticket for the weekend ($70). New Zealand has the bitnz.com and coined.co.nz sites, with bitcoin.co.nz in the works. The latter is planned by Zipbit, entrepreneur Brian Cartmell’s financial services company which has a secure Bitcoin payment platform for consumers and merchants. The currency is also accepted by cloud service Mega, while Upper Hutt brewery Kereru Brewing takes the payment. VoIP provider 2Talk has also recently jumped on the bitcoin bandwagon.

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Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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