Purdue prof: Bitcoin growing in influence

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University professor says Bitcoin, the virtual currency, is growing a wider audience.

Cathy Zhang, an assistant professor of economics in Krannert School of Management, says the digital currency, used online to trade for other currencies or buy goods and services, has about 30 transactions a minute. That's compared to 1,200 transactions a minute for Visa cards, she says.

"It's on a small scale now, but its importance is growing," Zhang says.

She notes that Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency designed to be free from government interference. Its supply is preset to a fixed quantity by the original creator, who uses the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, and its transactions are monitored through a peer-to-peer network.

Zhang says Bitcoin has benefits for both merchants and consumers.

For merchants, it eliminates the transaction fees that traditional credit cards require.

For consumers, it's relatively easy to use once an enabling device is installed on a mobile phone. "It would be particularly good for international travel because it would eliminate the fees for exchanging currency," Zhang says.

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