Texas becomes a key frontier for bitcoin digital currency


Michael Cargill teaches a concealed handguns safety class at his Austin firearms store while the online version of the business initiates FBI background checks on out-of-state buyers paying in bitcoin.

He says accepting the virtual currency has boosted sales by 50 percent.

“There are two things we like in Texas: We like our financial freedom, and we love our firearms,” Cargill said. Then, gesturing toward a wall of guns inside Central Texas Gun Works, he continued, “This is about people taking protection into their own hands. The same is true of bitcoin.”

The gun store is among a growing number of businesses that have embraced bitcoin in Texas, which boasts one of the world’s largest bitcoin economies and where the nation’s first ATMs catering to the currency were installed this year. The growth has been facilitated by a state government that has largely shielded bitcoin from heavy regulation, establishing Texas as a vital testing ground for the burgeoning movement.

Its popularity has spawned a philosophical battle between supporters and other state and federal agencies seeking to regulate a system they say can too easily facilitate money laundering and illegal trafficking. The results could ultimately determine whether bitcoin changes the financial norms across the country.

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