Anchorage dealership says cryptocurrencies make for easier business

 (Photo by Eric Sowl / KTUU)
(Photo by Eric Sowl / KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 9, 2018 at 4:35 PM AKDT
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Anchorage car buyers may be used to reaching for their wallets or check books to make a down payment, but an Anchorage used car dealership is making it easier for customers to reach for their phones.

United Auto Sales, a family-owned used car dealership in Anchorage, has been serving Anchorage for 22 years. Now, it's changing with the times by being one of Anchorage's first dealerships to accept cryptocurrencies as payment – a move the company says is paying off.

The company first began taking Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – like Litecoin and Ethereum – in September of 2017, according to Marketing Manager Ayesha Malak. Mohammad Malak, Ayesha's father, is the founder and owner of the business.

"I first heard about Bitcoin back in 2012, when my husband was mining it in our basement with his supercomputer," said Ayesha Malak. "Then about two years ago, I saw in the Lower 48 Pizza Hut and Subway accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment... We decided back in September that United Auto Sales should accept Bitcoin as a form of payment."

At first, Malak said it wasn't easy to get everyone in the company on board with the idea.

"It was really hard for my father to understand it at first. And I totally understood, because I was the same way," she said. "So he's warming up to the idea. I think him seeing it in mainstream media all the time is helping him out to understanding it more."

But once everyone accepted the idea of using cryptocurrencies in transactions, Malak said it was mainly smooth sailing.

She says the company uses an app called Coinbase, which many cryptocurrency users use to make transactions.

"They show us their app. We see it – that the money is in their wallet – and it's a really simple transfer. It goes from their Bitcoin wallet into our Bitcoin wallet. It's like that!" she said.

Malak says a majority of their most recent transactions with cryptocurrency include both digital and traditional means of financing.

"The majority of them [customers] have been using Bitcoin as a form of down payment, and then financing the rest through local banks in town," Malak said. "There's only one guy who bought a car full in Bitcoin, back in October. He bought a 1965 Mustang from us. That was a really fun exchange – it was also the fastest deal we've ever made."

When asked what the company plans to do with its hard earned cryptocurrency, Malak said they've been keeping a close eye on the market.

"So our Bitcoin has just been sitting in our wallet," she said. "We've been watching the market, and we will decide when we want to cash it in. But as for now, all the transfers we've done so far are just sitting in our wallet."

KTUU's Photojournalist Eric Sowl contributed to this report.