Bitcoin accepted at New York pre-school

image copyrightAFP/Getty
image captionBitcoin is worth more than $2,500

The head of two Montessori schools in New York won't let parents pay by credit card - but he is accepting Bitcoin.

Marco Ciocca, co-founder and chairman of the Montessori Schools in Flatiron & Soho, added the option in June, after growing inquiries from parents.

The decision comes as an increasing number of places - including universities in London and Greece - take the digital currency as payment.

About 10 parents of the roughly 300 students have opted to pay in Bitcoin so far, Mr Ciocca said.

He predicts that number will rise in coming years.

"If we talk about just the sort of transactional ease... I think this form of payment will continue to grow," he said.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that was first used in the real world in 2010. As acceptance has grown, so has its value.

Bitcoin's worth has more than doubled since the start of the year and tops $2,500 (£1,900) today, according to CoinDesk, which tracks the currency.

Parents who invested early and have ridden the currency's rise get something like a discount on the school's hefty $31,000 tuition.

But Mr Ciocca said the school won't profit from up-and-downs in the market. Tuition payments in Bitcoin - they also accept some other digital currencies - get converted to cash instantly.

The decision to accept digital currencies matched the schools' identity as "forward-thinking" and appealed to a pool of families drawn from tech and finance worlds, Mr Ciocca said.

(Google and Facebook are among the firms with large offices not far from the schools.)

Bitcoin is also an easier way to process money than other kinds of payments, such as credit cards, he said.

"It's just a much more seamless transaction," he said.

More growth?

Mr Ciocca, who has followed the currencies for some time as an investor, plans to be part of that growth.

He's working to offer the option to parents at two sister schools run by his family in Miami, Florida, in September.

Angela Ciocca, Mr Ciocca's sister, is headmistress of the schools there. She said she's not expecting a lot of takers.

"It hasn't hit us yet," she said. "But I do see it a lot when I go to Manhattan."

Related Topics