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Bitcoin may be a virtual currency, but it's real enough to get you a big sandwich at one Subway location.
A shop in Allentown, Pa., has made history of sorts by becoming one of only two Subways in the world — the other is in Moscow — to accept bitcoin for payment. Bitcoin is a digital currency created by a network of online operators that has been soaring in value recently, with one unit now worth more than $600.
Adam Welsh was so excited about the opportunity to use bitcoin to chow down at one of the ubiquitous sandwich shop's locations that the York, Pa., resident made the approximately 90-mile drive just to take part, according to a report in the (Easton) Express-Times.
"They're definitely pioneers in doing it," the 23-year-old Welsh told the paper. "I think it's awesome. I feel like once the word gets out, it could really spread like wildfire."
Store owner Shapan Shah said customers have come from all over, including New York and New Jersey, just to use their bitcoin to make purchases.
With the soaring value of bitcoin due to speculators in the market, the problem with using it today is that it could be worth much more tomorrow.
In Welsh's instance, his $12.35 purchase cost him 0.04 bitcoin. On Monday, it would have cost just 0.02307, according to bitcoinexchangerate.org.
Bitcoin touched a fresh all-time high on Monday as the digital currency continued to gain favor with investors.
The virtual currency rose to just under $619 on Mt. Gox exchange in Asia, up by over 25 percent from the same time on Sunday.
Its latest gains come as the potential for regulation hangs over the market. The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was set to begin a hearing on Monday. The event will bring representatives from different federal agencies and representatives from the bitcoin community to discuss virtual currencies.
Ahead of the hearing, several government agencies wrote to committee outlining their views on the currency. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that the bank had no plans to regulate bitcoin, which has been recognized by the German government as a legally tender currency.