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Now you can buy beer with Bitcoins at Fells Point bar Bad Decisions

Bad Decisions bar owner says he's the first brick-and-mortar store in Baltimore where patrons pay using the open-source, decentralized digital cash created in 2009.

Bad Decisions bar in Fells Point. Photo courtesy of the Bad Decisions Facebook page.
Full disclosure: Betamore cofounder Mike Brenner is a partner with Baltimore, which works on occasion from the Federal Hill incubator.

The virtual currency Bitcoin has already been used to buy pizza, a Tesla Model S and narcotics via the Silk Road online drug market.
Add beer to the list. At Bad Decisions bar in Fells Point, patrons can now pay for their alcohol using the open-source, decentralized digital cash created in 2009.
“I’ve been toying with the idea for a couple of weeks,” said Bad Decisions owner John Reusing, who announced he was accepting Bitcoins in a post on reddit. “My bar is kind of nerdy, and we’re kind of on the forefront of the new social media stuff,” he added.
Reusing, who was the first bar owner to use the service BeerGivr, the startup that facilitates drink purchases via QR codes, said that Bad Decisions is the first brick-and-mortar business in the city limits to accept Bitcoins.
While Reusing’s bartenders shouldn’t have much trouble processing Bitcoin transactions — he has a QR code for those tending bar to transfer Bitcoin payments from patrons to Bad Decisions’ online Bitcoin wallet — the virtual cash is slightly more complex than a QR code.
The currency itself is created online by “miners” — people using software to solve a mathematical formula to “discover” Bitcoins — and then held electronically in digital wallets. Fees for transferring Bitcoins between persons are virtually nonexistent, mainly because no person or central entity (a bank or institution) controls the currency. Instead, the money is held within the network of computers worldwide that mines Bitcoins and processes transactions, as explains.
Watch a video on how Bitcoins work:

Bitcoins were in the news late last week, when their value fell from roughly 1,200 U.S. dollars per Bitcoin to around 600 U.S. dollars per Bitcoin. (As of the afternoon of Nov. 9, the Bitcoin-U.S. dollar conversation rate was 1 Bitcoin for roughly $883. For a moment, then, consider the tab a person would need to run up at Bad Decisions to spend 1 Bitcoin.)
“I know there’s some risk involved, but I don’t really plan on holding them and speculating with them,” Reusing said. “I’m pretty much going to turn them back into cash once I get them.”
And under no circumstances will anyone be allowed to break a Bitcoin at Bad Decisions for U.S. dollars.
Reusing’s decision to start accepting Bitcoins mimics that of other businesses in the U.S. One enterprising — eccentric, perhaps — couple recently globe-trotted using only Bitcoins to pay their way.


Photo from Flickr user antanacoins under Creative Commons for Attribution.

“The way that it spreads is that it starts in little communities. Local communities start to use it and then it becomes a real thing,” said Federal Hill resident John Devor, organizer of the new Bitcoin Baltimore Meetup that held its inaugural meeting last Wednesday. (The group meets again this Wednesday at Bad Decisions.)
Devor is an avid user of Bitcoins. He estimates about “75 percent” of his online purchases are handled with Bitcoins, and said he prefers using Bitcoins because of the authority he has over his own money — regardless of how much it costs just to convert U.S. dollars into Bitcoins.
“You don’t need to go to a bank anymore. I have my money on my computer, and I can spend it wherever, whenever,” said Devor, who works at Touchpoint Games and has been back in Baltimore for about eight months after spending four years in San Francisco.
Devor said he recognizes the unpredictability of Bitcoins — “The price of Bitcoin is volatile, absolutely, but it’s volatile in the same way the U.S dollar is volatile” — but seems comfortable knowing that the value of Bitcoins rests in the Invisible Hand of the online network rather than U.S. Treasury officials.
“I don’t particularly trust the printing press of the United States government,” he said. “I’m making a choice to not play by their rules.”
Not everyone is sold. Mike Brenner, who cofounded the Betamore incubator in Federal Hill where Devor held Bitcoin Baltimore’s first meeting, told The Daily Record that “anyone who takes [Bitcoin] now, it’s just a gimmick.”
For Reusing, however, the rush to Bitcoins is more about what new business he can drum up.
“I’m going to have to probably wait and see how much it’s utilized,” he said. “I very much doubt we’ll have a Bitcoin transaction every day. But who knows? I could be underestimating the demand.”

Companies: Bad Decisions / BeerGivr / Betamore
People: John Reusing / John Devor / Mike Brenner
Projects: Bitcoin / Bitcoin Baltimore

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