Drinking with bitcoin

By: Kelsey Watts

(KHQ) SPOKANE, Wash. -If you're tech-savvy you probably know exactly what a bitcoin is and how it's used. But for the rest of us, suffice it to say bitcoins are a form of digital currency accepted online.

But now, you can pay your real-life tab with them.

Volstead Act on North Post in downtown Spokane is one of – if not the – first business in the city to accept bitcoins as payment. The bar started taking them last week and has already had its first bitcoin transaction.

"You technically have your wallet in your brain," bartender Ash Hayden told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.

Assuming customers already are familiar with bitcoins and have a digital wallet, when you come in to Volstead Act you may as well leave your wallet at home. Your entire payment transaction is done on an iPad and your smart phone.

"All I do is hit send and it's instantly done, just like that," Hayden demonstrated.

But – as with any new technology – you need to do your research. Because the exchange rate fluctuates by the second and isn't regulated by any bank or government, bitcoin can bite you.

"You need to understand that it's speculative, that it's high risk," Hayden added.

However, Hayden believes it's a win-win. Volstead Act saves money on credit and debit transaction fees and doesn't have to wait a day or two for a bank to clear the money. He says it's a win for you, too, because you don't present a card that can be compromised by a skimmer or employee with less than honest intentions.

"If you give them your credit card, well anyone on staff can write down your information and go on a shopping spree the next day. That's happened to me before," he said.

If you need a little incentive to get into the digital game, Volstead Act will give you $1 off each cocktail you pay for with bitcoin. As of Monday afternoon, 1 bitcoin was worth more than $840 dollars.

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