Region's farmers could reap benefits from Bitcoin
MOST of us would gladly whack a $10 note on a delicious steak, but could you imagine paying for your meat with a digital currency?
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are beginning to infiltrate the agricultural industry, and one local farmer has his finger on the pulse.
Ian Perkins is a farmer from Tenterfield who has been researching the potential behind Bitcoin and blockchain technologies.
"The internet is available everywhere these days, so there is no reason why people in the bush can't get on board with these technologies," Mr Perkins said.
A blockchain is a digital network that was developed to support cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but it is now being utilised in different areas.
Blockchain could revolutionise the agricultural industry by connecting producers directly with consumers.
For customers, this would mean greater certainty about where their food is coming from.
By scanning a QR code on the packaging of meat, for example, a consumer could find out when the animal was born, information about its genetics and how it was raised and handled.
Mr Perkins said that people in regional areas are keen to adopt innovative technologies where they prove useful.
"I do think that people in the bush pick up technology that suits them," he said.
"I think because of a different set of pressures people in the bush are often ahead of people in the cities in some areas."
Despite its sky-rocketing value, many see Bitcoin as a volatile and risky investment.
But Mr Perkins said it was the way of the future.
"A lot of young people believe that Blockchain is going to transform a lot of today's institutions, not just through money but also through methods of governance and voting," Mr Perkins said.
"It is risky, I think it's risky... but it's done very well and I really think that it's going to keep going."
Mr Perkins said the value of Bitcoin had gone up 10 fold since he started investing in May.
"You can make a very quick return... it's all happening and it's happening very, very quickly."
But other's aren't so confident in the cryptocurrency.
Warwick Credit Union CEO Lewis Von Stieglitz said Bitcoin was closer to gambling than investing.
"The value of Bitcoin can move around for any number of reasons... it's far from clear where it is going to go," he said.
Mr Von Stieglitz said that locals would be hesitant to get involved in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
"People here are reasonably prudent and careful, and would tend to make more conventional investments like property and shares," he said.
"If and when Bitcoin becomes a mainstream investment I think people would possibly invest in it... it will be very very interesting to see where it goes in the future."