Bitcoin backed for online spending


Visualization of the Internet currency bitcoin.

More than a third of Britons believe virtual currency Bitcoin is the future of spending, according to a new survey.

The research, by an independent price comparison website, found that 34% of those asked viewed it as the future method of paying online, with some having already started doing so.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that enables people to pay for goods and services from their computer or mobile device independent of any bank or central authority.

Users can generate bitcoins by signing up and creating an online wallet for themselves and then carrying out transactions directly with others who use the service. Bitcoin has its own value and is not tied to any physical currency.

Erik Lorentz, head of communications at who carried out the research, said, "Bitcoin is a hot topic amongst online shoppers and the tech community; however, there is still confusion over how to use it, if it is secure and how well it will retain its value in the future."

The currency is not without controversy, with all transactions encrypted and hard to trace, there have been numerous reports of it being used as part of illegal activity. Last year, online black market Silk Road was shut down, and more than 28 million dollars (£17m) worth of bitcoins were seized by

Of those in the survey who were aware of Bitcoin, 19% said they had already used it. However, some finance experts are still cautious about the currency's progress and future potential.

Miranda McLean, marketing director of online payment provider Ukash, said, "Bitcoin may be reported as the currency of the future - but cash remains the currency for today.

"According to new research we have just commissioned, more than three-quarters of Britons prefer this payment method for purchases of £10 or less. And that means it's vital that websites make themselves accessible to those who prefer to use cash by offering more than just bank or credit card payment methods."

Strangest gadget stories revealed

Strangest gadget stories revealed