Call it what you will — Bitcoin is pushing the limits of modern money, captivating the hearts and minds of the world with the promise of greater security,
inherent decentralization, and economic efficiency.
From anonymous netizens and free market libertarians to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, Bitcoin has reached a status (however controversial) unrivaled by any virtual currency introduced to date. As the federal government and mainstream media increasingly weigh in, Bitcoin is becoming harder to ignore with every passing day.
While Minnesota, and the US in general, lags behind the forefront of this movement (see Europe & Canada), there are early merchant adopters popping up everywhere. We’ve reached out to some local businesses based here in Minnesota to learn more about their Bitcoin adventures:
Slam Academy in Minneapolis is an electronic arts/sound school providing educational resources in music composition, theory and varied genre-based content. VP Leon Jaworski, a Course Designer and Instructor, says the company started accepting Bitcoin just a few weeks ago. “Why not?” he says. “It’s intriguing to us as individuals and offers the ability to pay for our services with the same ease as PayPal, minus the fees.”
While Slam Academy has ironed out their process through various testings the company has also yet to encounter a Bitcoin carrying customer.
The Movement Minneapolis, a physical training studio and in Uptown founded by David Dellanave, began accepting Bitcoins approximately six months ago. Dellanave came from the online/tech space and says he jumped on Bitcoin when digital wallet service Coinbase rolled out fully integrated payment buttons.
“Although Coinbase makes it dead simple and no different than any other payment processor, we’ve yet to process any actual transaction yet. If my business were more online based, I think it would have been used by now. Locally it’s just so far off people’s radar.”
Dellanave is long on Bitcoin, suggesting that more companies will begin to “Accept the currency as a transaction medium like anything else.”
Hypnosis & Psychotherapy For Health & Healing in Minnetonka accepts Bitcoin because “It is the beginning of a new universal currency that people all over the world people can use to buy products and services,” owner Amy Zilka explains. “The main and core reason why I started using it, is because I am a cash based practice. Which means I use/accept no insurance. I do not believe in using insurance for mental health issues.”
Unlike Slam and Movement, Zilka has conducted some transactions using Bitcoin, describing it as “Silky smooth, a very efficient way of doing business.”
DalekoArts, a nonprofit from New Prague, started accepting Bitcoin donations two weeks ago and now considers itself the first theatre company in the nation to accept it.
“We first heard about bitcoin last April and after reading about it and researching, we came to the conclusion that — even if bitcoin ended up failing — it was a revolutionary idea,” says Ben Thietje. He points to the infrastructure evolution including services such as BitPay and CoinJar as indicators that Bitcoin is growing up.
“We have yet to receive a bitcoin donation, but we look forward to our first! We’ll be rolling out Bitcoin purchasing for our tickets once our next season is announced in the coming month.”
Hawley Productions / Advanced Video Tactics in Rochester started accepting the coin two weeks ago in response to owner Justin Hawley’s personal “lack of faith” in fiat currencies, including the US dollar. “One of the crucial aspects is going to be adoption,” he contends, “…and I’d rather be in on the beginning rather than the end.”
Hawley, like most of the others, has yet to receive Bitcoins for his video services company. “It’s inevitable,” he believes and as such is now speerheading the new Rochester Bitcoin Group.
To connect with others nearby about Bitcoin and alternative virtual currencies, check out the Everything Bitcoin meetup group which draws folks from every walk, including this curious observer.