Toronto businesses are accepting cryptocurrency

november 14, 2018

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“Bunz right now is just at the stage of getting the currency to mean something, making them valuable, making it in a larger market, and getting more people on their app,” she said.

Sarah Melanson, owner of Will & Wind, poses with her soap at the Citizen Crafts holiday market on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. (RSJ/Dhriti Gupta)

While Bunz helps to build a community amongst local creators, it also helps to lessen the gap between consumers and local businesses. Anatacha Wilks, a 28-year-old insurance analyst, found that Bunz allowed her to support local businesses in a way she may otherwise not have been able to.

“It allows me to shop locally and actually afford and support those local makers. I do use my BTZ to buy groceries and food, and drinks at different bars, but I find I get more satisfaction when I’m buying something from a local maker,” she said. “If I could afford to pay real money, I would. With what I make now, I can’t, at least not consistently.”

Anatacha Wilks (left) purchases earrings from local vendor Chelsea Jamieson (right) using BTZ. (RSJ/Dhriti Gupta)

An increasing number of Toronto businesses are accepting the cryptocurrency BTZ, founded by the creators of the Bunz trading app.

On Sunday, at the holiday market, Citizen Crafts, seven vendors accepted BTZ a valid payment for their goods.  

Sarah Melanson started taking BTZ for her work six months ago. Her company, Will & Wind, specializes in handmade soap crystals, a product which she actually posted to the Bunz Facebook page last year. Since then, she has come onboard as a featured maker for the app and accepts Bunz cryptocurrency in exchange for her soaps. She puts the Bunz revenue she earns back into her company.

“I do often reinvest in my business. I use BTZ to buy materials from other Bunz makers to keep making,” said Melanson.

Within the app, Bunz offers many ways to earn BTZ. Users can trade goods with other users in exchange for BTZ, answer survey questions, or even refer friends to the app.

“To build a currency, you need to give currency. You can’t have money without money being out there,” said Shyana Srikanthalingam, a second-year student in computer engineering at Ryerson University.

Through participating in a hackathon sponsored by Bunz, Srikanthalingam learned a lot about BTZ and why Bunz is focusing on getting BTZ in circulation.

Some creators, like Chelsea Jamieson, said Bunz also gives them the opportunity to cash out the revenue they earn in BTZ. For Jamieson, there’s no harm in accepting BTZ for her handmade jewelry, as Bunz sends her monthly cheques depending on the BTZ she receives from users.

This is another part of the Bunz marketing scheme, said Asif Qayyum, a managing director in PwC Canada’s technology assurance practice.

Qayyum thinks that Bunz is temporarily reimbursing these makers from their marketing funds as incentive. However, once enough creators start accepting BTZ, Bunz won’t need to send out money anymore.

“As BTZ become popular, people start using it, and then it creates a value of its own,” he said.

Until then, users may struggle to associate BTZ with real value. Such is the case for Olivia Gillespie, a student at Ryerson in early childhood studies. She uses Bunz to look for things like clothes and home décor items.

“I recently got a scarf from Bunz. That’s something I probably didn’t necessarily need, because I already had a scarf. But I didn’t feel like I was spending my own money,” she said.

Qayyum anticipates this being a problem for Bunz until they find a way to make their currency more widespread.

“As far as the user is concerned, they have the perception of what the real experience has been. To them, he/she got money out of nowhere, and now bought a tangible product with that money,” he said. “They need to start monetizing their strategies before the bankroll stops.”

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