A Spokane Valley-based marketing company is accepting Bitcoin as payment from clients, becoming one of the few businesses in the area to do so.
Earlier this month, Victory Media implemented a payment option for clients to purchase marketing projects with bitcoins and is also helping nonprofits leverage technology to accept the cryptocurrency for donations.
While Bitcoin has been slow to catch on in Spokane because of limited ways to spend it, companies and nonprofits have an opportunity to benefit from accepting it as a payment option, Victory Media CEO Dayne Kuhlmann said.
“We’ve been watching what’s been happening in the cryptocurrency world in the last sixth months to a year, and we first saw a need for it in the giving and nonprofit space,” he said. “A lot of clients rely on donations, and this was another way for them to be able to increase revenue. There’s a lot of (nonprofits) looking to innovate and also a lot of people with Bitcoin that don’t know what to do with it yet.”
Victory Media already has a couple of pending projects that will be financed with Bitcoin, Kuhlmann said, adding it’s a fairly simple process for the company to accept Bitcoin, which could be converted into traditional currency.
“We would like to see it become more generally accepted,” Kuhlmann said.
Victory Media is assisting Spokane Valley-based HRC Ministries with accepting bitcoin donations on the nonprofit’s website via Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. Donations are tax-deductible for the market value of Bitcoin, Kuhlmann said.
HRC Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit that provides free resources and services to individuals and families affected by poverty, abuse or neglect.
“Right now with COVID-19, there’s a lot of hungry families that we help at HRC, and I think a lot of people also don’t have a lot of extra cash at the moment,” said Caleb Altmeyer, executive director of HRC Ministries. “If they have extra crypto, it’s a great way to help the community without giving large chunks of their cash flow away. It seems like a good win-win situation.”
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency that uses an online encrypted ledger called a “blockchain” to record and secure transactions. The digital currency is decentralized, meaning it’s managed by the encrypted database rather than the U.S. government or a central bank.
However, because cryptocurrency is decentralized and not regulated, the value of Bitcoin can be volatile.
People typically buy cryptocurrency through online exchanges, such as Coinbase. Cryptocurrency is typically stored in a digital wallet that can be accessed from users’ smartphones and computers.
Customers can pay for items with bitcoins at merchants by scanning a QR code with smartphones to access their digital wallets. From there, users approve the purchase and it’s transferred to the merchant’s account.
As cryptocurrency is gaining nationwide recognition, several companies have announced plans to accept it as a form of payment.
Utah-based retailer Overstock.com became the first large online retailer to accept Bitcoin in 2014. In March, Tesla Motors began accepting Bitcoin as payment for its electric vehicles.
Landry’s Inc. Chairman and CEO Tilman Fertitta told CNBC on Tuesday that most of his restaurant chain’s brands will soon accept Bitcoin as payment within the next three months. The company’s brands include McCormick and Schmick’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Joe’s Crab Shack and Clinkerdagger, among others.
Illinois-based Camping World said this week it will accept cryptocurrencies as payment for RV purchases at all of its locations by summer.
Locally, the Volstead Act in downtown Spokane announced in 2014 it was accepting Bitcoin. Owner Matt Goodwin did not respond to a request for comment this week on whether the bar was still accepting the cryptocurrency as payment.
The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies has been the primary driver for companies choosing to install new Bitcoin ATMs in gas stations, shopping centers and grocery stores.
Earlier this month, Chicago-based Coinflip expanded into Washington with dozens of new ATMs through which people can buy Bitcoin. Coinflip has five Bitcoin ATMs at gas stations in the Spokane area.
Kuhlmann, of Victory Media, advises people interested in cryptocurrencies to do research on how blockchain works before purchasing Bitcoin.
“Gaining a base level of knowledge is important for everybody, and it’s important that people understand (Bitcoin) is coming to Spokane,” he said.