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Latvia's airBaltic is first airline to accept Bitcoins as ticket payment

RIGA, Latvia -- Latvia's flagship carrier airBaltic on Monday announced a global coup as it boasted it is the first airline worldwide to sell tickets in exchange for Bitcoins, a controversial virtual currency.

“It's still a relatively small number (of tickets), fewer than one thousand, but we expect this to increase,” airBaltic spokesman Janis Vanags told AFP, refusing to give an exact number.

“We believe we have put all the precautions in place to avoid any risks” for nonpayment, he added.

Bitcoin is a revolutionary software-based payment system introduced in 2009.

It operates without a central bank or regulator, which has led to calls from some quarters for it to be brought under some form of control. Some high-profile cases of Bitcoin investors being ripped off has also made potential users wary.

airBaltic, whose hub is the Latvian capital Riga, is still displaying ticket prices in euros on its website and only the cheapest class of tickets are available for purchase via the virtual currency.

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