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Bitcoin going mainstream as Japanese business signs on

Some 300,000 stores seen taking the virtual currency this year

A woman pays her gas bill in bitcoins.

TOKYO -- Virtual currencies are gaining traction in Japan, with restaurant operators and retailers realizing the benefits of a simple, transnational form of digital payment.

At Nippon Gas' headquarters here, customers paying in bitcoin can settle their accounts in less than a minute simply by scanning their smartphones at a special ATM. The utility has grasped the simplicity that comes with removing physical cash from the equation.

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