The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce is now accepting Bitcoin payments for membership dues.

Chamber President Kim Casko made the surprise announcement this morning at Iowa City’s TechBrew meeting, a monthly event hosted by the Technology Association of Iowa. The chamber accepted its first Bitcoin payment on Friday, she said.

“Cryptocurrency is becoming more and more popular, especially in our community. There’s a ton of startup businesses forming around this technology,” Casko said. “We thought, ‘Let’s be ahead of trend.’ ”

After working with University of Iowa student Cameron Schorg, the chamber set up a bitcoin wallet through BitPay. Once the chamber receives payment through BitPay, the payment can be transferred to U.S. dollars with a small transaction fee and deposited in the chamber’s regular bank accounts.

The chamber began working on accepting the international cryptocurrency after Schorg inquired about becoming a Chamber of Commerce member. As of Tuesday, no other area business has asked to pay membership dues through Bitcoin, Casko said, although some Iowa City businesses are dealing directly with cryptocurrency markets.

“We’ll see. Based on the news getting out today, I don’t know if more will look to join. If they are, we’re capable of receiving that payment now,” Casko said. “I think the next step is to look at where else do we want to accept it and what would that look like.”

Is it the first Chamber of Commerce to accept Bitcoin payments? Chamber staff members have tried to verify that -- calling national Chamber of Commerce professional associations, and branches in New York City, Austin, Texas and Silicon Valley. So far, they have only identified one chamber of digital commerce based in Washington, D.C., Casko said.

They did beat one big name -- while Overstock and Expedia accept transactions using Bitcoin, internet giant Amazon has yet to announce plans surrounding cryptocurrency payments.

“Everyone’s waiting to hear if they’re going to accept it or not, and we’re tracking that too. It’s kind of fun for us to say, ‘well, we beat Amazon,’” Casko said.