A photo for the history books

I Bought Subway with Bitcoin and It Was Awesome

“Bitcoin can’t be used to buy anything,” they said. 

I’m a huge fan of bitcoin.

For those of you who don’t know, bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that is disrupting the way we exchange money on a global level. I’ve been following bitcoin for about six months now, but up until six weeks ago I never really dove in and learned what this mysterious new digital currency actually was.

After spending countless hours researching, I ended up buying some bitcoin while it was still under $200. The more I understood, the more passionate I became with the digital currency that was quickly gaining popularity around the world.

On November 12th I was excited to learn that one of the first businesses in the United States to accept bitcoin was located in my own backyard. I knew I had to make the forty-five minute drive to be one of the first people to complete a real-world transaction with bitcoin.

On a whim my good friend Christopher Nash and I made the trip to Allentown,PA; home of the first Subway in the United States to accept bitcoin as a payment option. During the ride we spoke about the potential bitcoin had to completely revolutionize global commerce and finance, which only heightened the anticipation to make our first purchase.

We pulled up to the small Subway shop on Hamilton Boulevard and geeked out at the sight of the bitcoin sign on the front door: “Bitcoin accepted here.” We wondered how many people walked by this sign on a every day and had no idea that they were stepping into history. After making a slight scene in front of the store and getting some odd looks from employees and customers, we made our way to the counter and placed our order.

While our sandwiches were being made we bombarded the employees with questions. They were cool about it and happy to help. I asked how many people had come in this past week to make a purchase with bitcoin. The employees looked with amusement and told us that between them they have had well over one hundred bitcoin enthusiasts stop in. “Some told us they traveled four hours, and they only bought a few cookies.” A wise investment, not only because Subway’s cookies are amazing, but also because next month the bitcoin they spent on food could easily double the value.

That being said, transactions will be the backbone of bitcoin’s future. If you really want to support bitcoin’s longterm success, you need to support bitcoin-accepting businesses by making purchases. Unfortunately due to the volatility of bitcoin over the past year, many people are choosing to sit on their investment and watch it rise and fall in value.

What a crazy ride it has been.

Chris and I weren’t as smart with our bitcoin purchase, but mainly because we were hungry. Fittingly I forgot to bring any cash with me; luckily Chris had enough to pay the tolls on the turnpike.

Once our subs were made the employee took out an iPad and opened Coinbase. She punched our total in the register and then in the iPad, which immediately generated a custom QR code linked to the store’s Coinbase account which was preloaded with our exact total calculated. I took out my iPhone, opened my Coinbase app, and scanned the QR code. Instantly the total popped up on my screen and gave me the option to leave a note about my purchase.”Subway” seemed appropriate.

I hit send and within seconds she received confirmation on the iPad that her account had received the bitcoin. It took no longer than a credit card transaction, and it didn’t require my signature.

Thankfully the business owner and I had the Coinbase app installed before Apple unexpectedly removed the app from the App Store less than a month after it was launched. This could be a blockade to bitcoin adoption in the US, hopefully Coinbase can get this issue resolved with Apple immediately. Perhaps after the recent positive Senate hearings Apple will have a change of heart. Bitcoin surged this week to a new high of over $700 after US agencies told a Senate committee that bitcoin is a “legal means of exchange.” However, it’s important to note that adoption in China is also a major force behind this spike in value.

After we finished our subs we knew we had to make another purchase. This time we opted for the cookies and even recorded a short Vine of the transaction.

Overall the experience was remarkable. A great story to tell the grandkids someday. Love it or hate, you can’t deny that bitcoin is an exciting new technology that will undoubtably change the world. I am proud to say I played a small part of history in the making.

Update: Subway approves!

I write for free, but if you’d like to donate: 1DXFzxkfAHGNk1egTvX3TqmQHR4tNH6Mdh

Those of you that donated, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

This post made Medium’s Top 100 for November 2013. Thank you!
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