Apple’s iPhone used as hard currency internationally

“I’ve been paying my bills with iPhones,” Vernon Silver reports for BusinessWeek. “Not with apps or on bank sites — I’ve been using the Apple hardware as currency.”

“It started by accident in December, during a business trip to New York. I live in Rome, where domestic work comes cheap and technology is expensive. An unlocked, gold, 32-gigabyte iPhone 5s that costs about $815 with tax in the U.S. goes for €839 (about $1,130) in Italy, roughly a month’s wages for workers who do laundry, pick up kids from school, or provide care for the elderly,” Silver reports. “When one worker heard I was visiting the States, she asked me to pick her up an iPhone in lieu of the equivalent cash for work she’d done. Lining up inside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, I was surrounded by shoppers speaking languages from around the world. The salesman looked stunned when I said I wanted an unlocked iPhone. Just one?”

“A new shipment of unlocked 5s phones had just come in, he said, adding that the gold model I asked for was the most popular in Europe and the easiest to resell. To my right, a man with a credit card from a Saudi bank was trying to buy his third and fourth phones of the day. ‘Make it two,’ I said,” Silver reports. “Exiting the store with my plastic Apple shopping bag secured by a rope drawstring, I no longer thought of the phones inside as appliances. They were more like gold bars.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “David E.” for the heads up.]

16 Comments

    1. Not quite so sure about that. As more than three thirds of all iPhones now run iOS 7, and majority of them (especially those registered in the US) have “Find My Phone” enabled, these iPhones are now becoming increasingly difficult and practically impossible to “fence”, since most of the usual fences in big cities know full well that a stolen iPhone will likely turned by its owner into a brick well before it reaches them. As sought-after as they iPhones are, the crooks are quickly realising that they aren’t really worth that much anymore.

      1. nope. These features are reliant on the user to take certain precautions to avoid becoming victimized and we all know how lazy people can be.

        Simplistic passwords are indicative of how people’s minds work!

        Not every iPhone user bothers to lock the screen, or use the security features because they are intimidated by the OS. These aren’t computer savvy people and aren’t interested in the granular details of protecting themselves.

        People can be such sheeple.

  1. What is interesting is that even people of modest means recognize value in Italy. Further, they manage their finances in a way that enables them to effectively pay cash for an iPhone. Bravo.

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