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Virgin Galactic Allowing Customers To Pay For Space Flights With Bitcoins

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British billionaire Richard Branson attends a  press conference by French telecom company Virgin Mobile for the presentation of Virgin Mobile's new offer Telib  in Paris  on Sept. 18, 2013. (credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

British billionaire Richard Branson attends a press conference by French telecom company Virgin Mobile for the presentation of Virgin Mobile’s new offer Telib in Paris on Sept. 18, 2013. (credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Richard Branson is now allowing people to pay for space flights with Bitcoins.

In a blog post, Branson announced “we think it is about time” that Virgin Galactic customers begin paying with the virtual currency, citing that a female flight attendant has already purchased her ticket with Bitcoins.

“I have invested in some bitcoins myself, and find it fascinating how a whole new global currency has been created,” Branson stated.

Despite criticism surrounding Bitcoin, Branson called it a “brilliantly conceived idea.”

“The days of carrying cash and coins could soon be over,” Branson wrote. “Sometime in the future, innovative payment models such as Square, Clinkle and Bitcoin will become serious challengers to traditional banks, which will spur more competition and give customers even more options.”

Potential astronauts need to shell out $250,000 for a seat on space flights that are expected to launch next year.

Bitcoin is a cybercurrency that is relatively anonymous. They are created and exchanged independent of any government or bank. Some retailers allow the money to be used, and the currency can be converted into cash after being deposited into so-called wallets.

Bitcoin and other electronic monies are under increased scrutiny. At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security on Governmental Affairs, federal law enforcement officials told lawmakers that Bitcoin and other companies should receive greater scrutiny from financial regulators and other authorities. In an August memo, New York state Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said virtual currencies are the “wild west” for criminals including drug dealers and the under-the-radar transactions could threaten national security.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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