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Goodwill cashing in on Bitcoin currency

– Shoppers soon may be able to make purchases using Bitcoins in an unlikely place: the thrift store.

Goodwill, a collective of nonprofit groups that operate several thousand stores selling secondhand items, will have the option to accept Bitcoins in some locations via payment terminals from Revel Systems Inc., a San Francisco startup.

Revel is adding a Bitcoin button to its point-of-sale system, which is used in 23 Goodwill stores.

Revel, which has deployed 7,000 terminals at supermarkets, pizza places and yogurt shops, added the Bitcoin option after customers began demanding it, co-founder Chris Ciabarra said.

“We’ve had clients who’ve asked for it,” he said. “It’s all customer input – it’s the demand.”

The move lends support to Bitcoin at a turbulent time for the virtual currency. Bitstamp, one of the currency’s biggest online exchanges, suspended Bitcoin withdrawals last Tuesday, saying it had suffered a cyberattack.

Mt.Gox, another exchange, said last week that it had stopped withdrawals because of a technical problem, triggering an 8 percent decline in the value of Bitcoins.

The governments of India, China and Russia have sought to ban or limit the use of Bitcoins, which exist as software and aren’t controlled by any central authority.

American exchanges have either closed at the behest of law enforcement or have had difficulties obtaining business bank accounts because of regulatory uncertainty.

Still, the currency appeals to some retailers because it lets them save money on credit-card processing charges.

“It’s very low fees, and we receive our payments faster than the average,” said Revel customer Evelyn Fong, co-owner of Five Markets grocery store in San Francisco.

Revel’s terminals are used by more than 100 Pizza Patron stores and select Popeyes, Tesla Motors and Belkin International locations.

Each retailer will have to decide independently whether to use Bitcoin, Revel said.

Goodwill Industries International Inc., based in Rockville, Md., represents 165 nonprofit Goodwills that make their own decisions on what payment technology to deploy, said Charlene Sarmiento, a spokeswoman for the group.