BitPay execs to promote Bitcoin to merchants ahead of St. Pete Bowl

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BitPay executives have arrived in St. Petersburg to prepare the city for the nuances of digital currency — in advance of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on December 26.

The startup brokerage for Bitcoins became the sponsor of the former Beef O’Brady’s Bowl through 2016 in an effort to raise the profile of the open source virtual currency, making it more mainstream.

“Leading up to the game, we want as many merchants as we can get [in St. Petersburg] to accept bitcoin,” said BitPay CEO Stephen Pair to Chris Wilkerson of the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

BitPay, bowl executives and ESPN announced the deal in June, and representatives have been in town from the Atlanta headquarters to promote the bitcoin technology community.

Executives will be working with the hospitality community, engaging them in the use of Bitcoins.

BitPay vice president of marketing Stephanie Wargo will meet with the bowl’s board on Thursday. The plan is to get ready to explain what Bitcoins are, how they work and outline BitPay’s goals.

Brett Dulaney, Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl Executive Director, says he and his board are prepared to help in any way possible.

“We’re working with BitPay to roll out some educational pieces to explain at a ground level what Bitcoin is,” said Dulaney.

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Steinocher will join the effort to ensure the bowl’s success, starting with explaining the crypto-currency to members.

“We have already reached out to BitPay to start working collaboratively,” Steinocher told Wilkerson. “If it can work anywhere, St. Pete is the right place.”

St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership President Peter Betzer seemed a little more uncertain about explaining the intricacies of a new currency to a number of St. Pete merchants.

“It seems like there’s a lot to overcome,” Betzer said.

Bitcoin can be a challenge for the uninitiated, but they are now the bowl’s official sponsors, so the pressure is on to make it work.  As St. Petersburg finds itself associated with one of the most innovative technologies on the market, opportunities are abundant.

“We also need to make this a fun, successful bowl game,” said Wargo.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.