Charles Winkelmann used the most modern of global currencies to buy a classic symbol of America last month when he bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with bitcoins.
“We know it was the first Harley in the United States, and perhaps in the world, bought via Bitcoin,” said Mike Moffett, president of Old Road Harley-Davidson, which has been on Centre Pointe Parkway since 2009, when it moved from Van Nuys. The dealership first opened in 1965.
Bitcoin, a digital and global currency, allows people to securely send or receive money across the internet. Money can be exchanged without being linked to a real identity. The mathematical field of cryptography is the basis for Bitcoin’s security.
The security of each transaction is assured by encrypting it, and linking it in an unalterable way to all previous transactions, and distributing the records, called blocks, to computers all over the world. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered without altering all subsequent blocks, which requires the cooperation of participants across the network.
Last month, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said it will start trading Bitcoin futures later this year, once it receives regulatory approval. Cryptocurrency market capitalization has grown in recent years to $172 billion, with Bitcoin representing more than 54 percent of that total, or $94 billion, according the futures exchange. About $1.5 billion worth of bitcoins are exchanged each day.
“By accepting Bitcoin and getting the word out, we’re reaching another audience that we might not otherwise reach,” Moffett said.
His brother Tom mines cryptocurrency, and brought him up to speed on how it works.