Change in N.H. bitcoin law attracts startup firm, speeds up transactions

Monitor staff
Published: 8/5/2017 11:34:34 PM

Fans of bitcoin in New Hampshire can now buy the digital currency the old-fashioned way – by walking into a local bank branch and writing a check.

BitQuick, a Chicago-based cash for bitcoin startup, says that people can now buy the cyber-currency from other BitQuick customers at New Hampshire branches of Bank of America and Citizens Bank.

The company offers the service in other parts of the country. BitQuick entered New Hampshire because on Tuesday a new state law (HB 436) went into effect exempting companies like it from banking regulations.

Eric Gravengaard, co-founder and CEO of the firm, described the process.

“Our sellers, the people who have the bitcoin and a bank account, list them (on the site), set their own prices, and give out their banking information. … Buyers find them, say, ‘This is near me and this is a good price’ and get deposit instructions. They deposit money at the teller into the seller’s account, take a picture of the receipt, upload into the site.

“The whole process takes about two hours,” he said.

It is possible to buy bitcoin at several bitcoin vending machines in stores and bars around the state, including at least one in Concord. Gravengaard said the use of bank branches greatly expands the availability of such services and makes the process faster.

New Hampshire may have the highest number of bitcoin vending machines per capita of any state in the country, thanks to backing by members of the Free State Movement and their supporters.

That group fits into the segment of the bitcoin-using community that Gravengaard called “white libertarian nerds” – those who are interested in bitcoin’s ability to bypass government structures as well as its technical underpinnings.

Another major group using cyber-currencies, he said, are small companies that need to move money across international borders, such as to make a quick purchase from an overseas vendor.

“Say you want to do business like the major corporations, except that you’re a little guy. If you went into a bank and said ‘I need to get a (money) wire to a guy in China today,’ they’re not interested, they can’t help you,” he said.

For those bitcoin users, he said, “It’s not about your view of the government or where the world is heading, it’s just crossing a lot of borders and the payment needs to happen really quickly.”

BitQuick and the state’s bitcoin vending machines were shutdown for a short time around July 31 and Aug. 1 during what is known as a fork, when bitcoin split into two incompatible versions because of a long-running disagreement among its developers over how to handle various technical issues.

BitQuick only deals in the original form of bitcoin, not the forked version, Gravengaard said.

BitQuick has 20 employees, many working remotely. That includes two full-time positions in New Hampshire that handle customer service, Gravengaard said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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