Indiana Daily Student

Local brewing company integrates bitcoin for customer transactions

<p>A Switchyard Brewing Company sign is seen Sept. 1, 2021, at 419 N. Walnut St. Switchyard Brewing Co will allow patrons to purchase via bitcoin currency. </p>

A Switchyard Brewing Company sign is seen Sept. 1, 2021, at 419 N. Walnut St. Switchyard Brewing Co will allow patrons to purchase via bitcoin currency.

Switchyard Brewing Company began accepting bitcoin payments from customers March 14, making them the first brewery in Indiana to accept bitcoin as payment. 

Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency: a decentralized digital currency that’s stored with blockchain technology, a distributed log for data across a system of computers. Unlike cash, cryptocurrency isn’t regulated by the government and therefore is less affected by inflation.  

Yung Lerk, a member of the Indianapolis Bitcoin Slack channel, first learned about Switchyard Brewing Company through its company Twitter account. Switchyard Brewing Company owner Kurtis Cummings tagged a Twitter account Lerk runs, @IndyBitcoin, in a post expressing interest in incorporating bitcoin into the company's payment system. Lerk then invited Cummings into the Slack channel. 

Lerk said he’s spoken to other breweries and pubs in the past about implementing bitcoin in their businesses too.

“I’m a big fan of trying to get the owner to come in and sit with us,” Lerk said. “I enjoy the conversation and ability to meet people.”

Many local and mom and pop businesses can benefit from working with bitcoin, Lerk said. 

“Bitcoin is an open-source monetary system that provides financial inclusivity to everybody on this planet,” Lerk said. 

He said bitcoin technology allows people to pay virtually. Lerk said basically he could buy a beer from the Switchyard Brewing Company with bitcoin from his apartment. 

A node is a full digital archive of the entire blockchain that can help users verify their transactions, Lerk said. Switchyard started a payment processing service called BTC Pay Server on that node, he said. This will give more control to the company to run the sales without a third party collecting on purchases and operating expenses. 

“I hope for every business, they take the route that Switchyard took: running their own node at their designated location,” Lerk said. “I think it was really cool that they were taking the time to learn the tools and use it in their business.”

Lerk said when inflation becomes a bigger concern, bitcoin allows people to see more consistent cash flows because the system isn’t backed by the government, so it’s not at significant risk when there’s a lot of inflation. 

Michael McClung, Switchyard Brewing Company’s chief crypto officer, said the pandemic seemed to help people appreciate bitcoin. 

McClung said he thinks people will continue to appreciate bitcoin more as they realize how it compares to the U.S. dollar. For instance, 7 trillion American dollars were released in 2020, devaluing U.S. currency by 30%, McClung said.

He said with cryptocurrencies, printing isn’t an option and there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins. 

“So the more we deflate our currency, our U.S. dollar, the more bitcoin is going to go up in value,” McClung said. 

The Switchyard Brewing Company has been open for almost 4 years and was originally a garage start-up, Kurtis Cummings, CEO and founder of the company, said.

He said he was personally familiar with cryptocurrency at sports venues but when a recent customer asked them if they had ever considered accepting cryptocurrency, Cummings and McClung looked into the idea.  

He said they bought the lightning node that would enable bitcoin purchases as well as consulted people familiar with bitcoin.

“If people want to come in and buy a beer with crypto, they sure can,” Cummings said.

Cummings said he knew the company adopted the cryptocurrency early on, but he’s glad to have it ready when it becomes more normalized. 

“We’re kind of rebels in craft brewing,” Cummings said.

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