Yesterday after an amazing lobster BLT, lobster roll, and seafood chowder at River House, my partner Steven asked our server if he’d ever heard of bitcoin. Of course, he had. His college macroeconomics professor bought some bitcoin 5 years ago, and today the value of his bitcoin has quintupled. Our server said he’d like to get some but didn’t know how.
Delighted, we told him we love to use bitcoin and use it all the time — to buy things online like hotels and plane tickets and also things in Portsmouth like tickets to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Bikram Yoga classes, and dinners at STREET restaurant. He was amazed. He asked how people get it.
Steven told him there is a bitcoin vending machine inside the Seacoast Rep where you scan your phone and then feed in paper bills, and it sends bitcoin right to your phone. I told him that the easiest way to get bitcoin is to take it in exchange for a good or service that you sell. For example, Steven asked his last company to pay his salary in bitcoin. I charged bitcoin in exchange for placing ads in my YouTube videos.
Steven offered that if our server sets up a bitcoin wallet, Steven would gladly double his tip, giving him both cash and bitcoin. The server thought that was cool and said maybe next time we could tip him with bitcoin. I said, “How about right now?”
He took out his phone, and we told him to search the app store for “Mycelium”. (That’s the bitcoin wallet I recommend to everyone because it provides the greatest privacy in that no personally identifying data such as name or email is captured. It’s a simple, tiny app for sending and receiving bitcoin. The app downloaded in a few seconds, he opened it, pressed the “New Wallet” button, and immediately saw a QR code with his new bitcoin address. I scanned it and sent $10 (0.00443506 BTC). He tucked his phone back into his pocket and thanked us, saying, “What are your names again?” asking us to repeat our names. He cleared our table while I texted Steven the address, and Steven was able to double his tip on our way out.
Of course, we also left a cash tip so that our awesome server can have something to pay his bills. But now he also has a scarce digital resource as well – the world’s most popular cryptocurrency! What he buys with it is his business — totally outside the reach of controlling banks and snooping governments. It could be a meal at STREET restaurant in Portsmouth, some Bikram Yoga classes, a donation to WikiLeaks, or even recreational drugs on the dark market. No one would know, and free people like it that way.
TL;DR: Accept bitcoin as a tip for something you already do.
[UPDATE: As of July 22, 2 days after this post, the value of the server’s tip had increased from $20 to $25. Not bad. How many more servers would like to see receive tips that 1) they don’t have to claim, and 2) increase in purchasing power, and 3) allow them to shop online outside the watchful eye of banks and governments?]