Dubai pizzeria claims to be first UAE restaurant to accept Bitcoins

The owners of The Pizza Guys not only want to save on transaction costs by accepting the digital currency. They are also keen to participate in "the social experiment".

The Pizza Guys, in Business Bay, is a New York style pizzeria. Owners Rami and Amber Badawi have already accepted two Bitcoin payments. Lee Hoagland/The National
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DUBAI // Vegetarian pizza? Certainly, that’ll be 0.034 Bitcoins, please.

The Pizza Guys restaurant in Business Bay began accepting the virtual currency last week and has already taken its first payments.

The owners, husband and wife team Rami Badawi and Amber Haque, believe their restaurant is the first in the UAE, and possibly the region, to use the currency.

Mr Badawi is enthusiastic about the currency, a "peer-to-peer" payment that exists solely online but can be purchased for real money from internet traders.

“There were two reasons we got into Bitcoin,” he said. “The first was for business. It offers another form of payment for customers and carries a lower transaction cost than a credit card. The other reason was that we see it as a wonderful social experiment that we want to participate in.”

When customers want to pay via Bitcoin, the server will convert the dirham amount to Bitcoins using their smartphone "wallet" application, which then produces a QR code.

The customer then scans the QR code using their own smartphone, equipped with the same Bitcoin virtual wallet software, and the transaction is complete.

The restaurant is then able to receive dirhams for their Bitcoin by using an online exchange service.

The virtual wallet apps are available only for Android phones. Apple’s App Store no longer supports the software.

A vegetarian pizza, usually costing Dh47, was sold last week for 0.034 Bitcoins.

You won't find the Bitcoin prices printed on the The Pizza Guys' menus however, as the rate of exchange fluctuates from day to day.

“Among people it is gaining a lot of acceptance,” said Mrs Haque.

“This conversation has been taking place for some time now and it is very interesting to us. It is changing the way people are thinking about currency. It is such a people-focused kind of currency.”

The couple are confident that Bitcoin will gain in popularity, and hope that other businesses will follow their lead.

The restaurant celebrated its first anniversary on February 1.