The stratospheric rise in the value of bitcoins, the digital currency transacted on the Internet, over the last couple of weeks has sparked fresh interest across the country.

An online portal for buying and selling bitcoins, buysell.co.in, has reported a leap in the number of transactions for bitcoins in Indian rupees. “We used to do about 20 transactions a day. Now, we are doing more than 50. On Monday, about 70 transactions were recorded”, said Mahin Gupta, who operates the portal out of Ahmedabad, but has a regional office in Bangalore to cater to ‘bitcoiners’ from South India.

The large IT workforce in Bangalore is believed to be showing interest in the emergence of bitcoins as an alternative currency. “If we go by the PAN card details and the addresses of the banks, Bangalore appears to be showing a lot of interest followed by other South Indian cities like Hyderabad and Chennai”, he said.

Sathvik Vishwanath, who is a prominent organiser of a Meetup.com group on bitcoins in Bangalore, estimates the number of bitcoiners in Bangalore to be around 1,000. “We have about 350 active members in the group. If others, who are not part of the group are taken into account, we may have around 1,000 of them in the city. But, the numbers are growing”, he said.

Sunny Ray, who started the group in October 2012, when a bitcoin was valued at $10 , said that he was always confident that bitcoin is the “future money”.

“In about a month’s time during November this year, the value breached the $1,000 mark when everybody started looking up to the digital currency”, Mr Gupta said, but cautioned that there was a lot of volatility in the bitcoin market when it dropped to $990 dollars. The bitcoin, which was trading at around Rs 67,000 (a little over $1000) on Monday, was trading at almost Rs 76,000 ($1200) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, capitalising on the growing interest in bitcoins among software professionals in Bangalore, Coinmonk Ventures, which is spreading awareness about bitcoins, is holding the first global conference on bitcoins in Bangalore on December 14 and 15.

“The response has been very good even though we are charging $150 dollars for a day and $180 for pre- conference and conference day,” said Mr. Sathvik.

Another web-based service, called UnoCoin, where people buy and sell bitcoins, will be launched in two weeks by Coinmonk, which is pioneering the global conference on bitcoins.

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