The year was 2014.
The Philadelphia 76ers were knee deep in a controversial Process, Uber had just started to offer its ridesharing service in Philly, and cryptocurrency was a fairly inexpensive — if not complicated — concept.
One local business made history by being the first of its kind to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Kensington’s Philadelphia Brewing Company decided to accept Bitcoin in 2014 and was the first U.S. brewery to do it, according to brewer Nancy Barton, one half of the team behind the local brewery that brews approximately 15,000 barrels of beer every year.
Today, businesses ranging from Burger King to Starbucks accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Local companies such as RushOrderTees has even decided to invest $1 million in Bitcoin. But five years ago, the business landscape was much different.
Barton remembered a friend being very interested in Bitcoin at the time and helping her navigate its setup as a form of payment at her brewery.
“It was very easy,” she told Technical.ly. “Initially, it was a big deal and a lot of people used it.”
As time passed, Barton said that interest in paying via Bitcoin dwindled, and Philly Brewing changed its point-of-service (or POS) system to Square, which didn’t accept Bitcoin at the time. The company still uses Square today, and the POS system is now able to accept Bitcoin as payment — but Barton said they have not thought much about switching back and using Bitcoin again.
Having closed the bank account that she dedicated to Bitcoin sales and with no statistics on how many people used it or what the dollar equivalent was, her brewery’s Bitcoin days seem like a distant memory.
Barton’s experience as an early adopter of accepting Bitcoin as currency was made easier by the amount of research she did before working with the cryptocurrency, which she recommends that other professionals looking to integrate Bitcoin in their businesses do first, too.
“The advice I would give to others wanting to get started with Bitcoin would be to do their homework and understand what Bitcoin is and how it can work for them,” she said. “I found it to be very easy and never had any issues with it. We used it strictly as a form of payment that passed through our account just as a credit card payment would — we did not keep or sell Bitcoin.”
Doing research before engaging in a new practice is a key for any entrepreneur’s success. As in the case of Philadelphia Brewing Company accepting bitcoin, you might even make history.
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-