High altitude mountaineers are usually a forward thinking bunch, often employing the latest technology and gear to help them achieve their goal of reaching the summit. Turns out they carry that same attitude into business as well. Case in point, an Australian company called Mt. Everest Adventures has begun accepting bitcoin, an emerging virtual currency, as a form of payment, despite the fact that it remains largely unknown with the general public, and has a reputation for being a volatile commodity.
Mt. Everest Adventures, which leads climbers to Tibet to take on Everest’s North Face, also offers treks to Annapurna and Everest Base Camp on the South Side in Nepal. Because of the international nature of their clients, the adventure travel company is forced to accept multiple types of currency just to do business. Bitcoin offers a number of advantages in that regard, as it is lauded for being safer and more secure when used for online transactions. It also has the advantage of not forcing users to pay high transaction fees, or requiring them to do much more than set up an account with an agency that trades in the virtual cash. That makes it attractive for businesses in particular, as it streamlines the process of taking payments, and keeps more money in their pockets at the end of the day. It is especially useful when making large payments online, and considering the average Everest expedition costs in the neighborhood of $65,000, I’d say it more than qualifies in that regard.
But bitcoin isn’t without its problems. For starters, it isn’t recognized by a lot of banks or other financial institutions just yet. It also has been highly volatile in terms of its value, often spiking up quickly, only to tumble back down just as fast. A series of high profile incidences have also given the new form of currency a black eye with the few people who actually even know it exists. In the past few months hackers have stolen millions of dollars in bitcoins from one of the companies that trade in it, while another mysteriously “lost” hundreds of millions of dollars, only to find it again later in a misplaced folder. Since bitcoins are basically made up of the ones and zeros that keep data flowing on the Internet, these stories shouldn’t come as a real shock.
Still, Mt. Everest Adventures has decided to take a risk on this new form of payment and they’re giving their clients a chance to hop on board as well. Whether or not bitcoins will still be around in the future remains murky at this point, but for now, it could be the way to pay for your trip to the summit of the highest mountain on the planet.