NewsPinellas County

Actions

Time to buy Bitcoin? Popular St. Pete bar is a hot spot for investors in digital currency

Posted: 5:30 AM, Dec 11, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-11 12:02:40Z

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mark “Ferg” Ferguson couldn’t believe it at first: customers bringing two, three thousand dollars into his St. Pete bar... and feeding the green into his Bitcoin ATM machine.

“It’s crazy,” he says, watching them pumping cash in like a slot machine then scanning their phone so the money is deposited in a cyber-wallet. “My customers are using this more than they’re using the regular ATM machine.”

Ferg has had the Bitcoin machine for about nine months. At first business was slow; now, about 10 to 15 people a day use it.

Bitcoin may not be the most stable investment these days, but the digital currency — which is dizzying Wall Street with its daily fluctuating highs and lows of 10s of thousands of dollars — is definitely one of the hottest investments.

Financial planners like Tampa’s Terry O’Grady  are hesitant to recommend Bitcoin due to its shadowy history and unregulated format. (It’s not unlike investing in unicorns, and yet LOT of people are doing it.) But he understands the buzz and get-rich-quick excitement. 
 
“Bitcoin is the latest financial crazy that the guy at the bar is talking about,” says O’Grady. “But to me, it’s not an investment.”

Ferg, however, is a believer. He says sooner rather than later, Bitcoin will be as accepted as cash when it comes to buying wings at his sports bar. “It’s right around the corner,” he says.