Thanksgiving and the ensuing shopping sprees are a few weeks away, but a group of merchants who accept the digital currency Bitcoin are planning their own Black Friday before then.
At least 25 retailers that accept the virtual tender are planning a sale slated for Nov. 9 that they've dubbed Bitcoin Friday.
Besides discounts on goods and services, some merchants taking part in Bitcoin Friday are expected to provide people who may be new to Bitcoin with information about how to use the virtual tender.
"I believe this sale will expose how much cheaper it is to transact in Bitcoin than in U.S. dollars," says Jon Holmquist, head of marketing for Coinabul, an online market where customers can exchange bitcoins for sliver and gold. "The end goal is to convince consumers in the U.S. that using Bitcoin can save them money."
Holmquist, who is organizing Bitcoin Friday, says he conceived of the event as a way to encourage collective action by merchants that accept Bitcoin, which they can accept in lieu or credit cards and other forms of payment without chargebacks or processing fees. Holmquist says he also hopes to spur circulation of Bitcoins after reading a study recently that as many as 78% of Bitcoins fail to circulate despite the the currency having roughly one million users worldwide.
Among deals consumers Holmquist says consumers can expect on Bitcoin Friday are $10 off the purchase of an ounce of gold at Coinabul; lower fees at Mt. Gox, an exchange based in Japan where bitcoins can be bought and sold for government currencies; and a 23% discount and free shots of Pampero Rum at Room 77, a restaurant in Berlin.
"I've been encouraging people to cut as low as possible," says Holmquist, referring to the merchants, some of whom he's urging to offer deeper discounts to people who show up early in the day, in a sort of digital equivalent of the traditional Black Friday "door-buster specials."
Though Bitcoin Friday will be the first such sale of its type, Holmquist says he envisions more events like it in the future. "We already have plans to do a second year," he says. "There's talk of doing something at Christmas as well."