Lee Road becomes a Bitcoin Boulevard

Effective May 1, several Lee Road businesses plan to begin accepting bitcoins as payment from customers. Branded Bitcoin Boulevard US, Lee Road joins Bitcoin Boulevard NL (The Hague, Netherlands) as a global destination for Bitcoin commerce and community.

The Wine Spot (2271 Lee Road) became one of Greater Cleveland’s first bitcoin-friendly retail merchants when it began accepting bitcoins on Feb. 4. That generated interest from neighboring businesses, and soon a vision was shared.

An April 25 ruling from the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), however, has now banned the use of bitcoins for alcohol sales—at least temporarily.

Nikhil Chand is founder of CoinNEO (www.coinneo.com), a Cleveland Heights-based company that partners with organizations and businesses, such as The Wine Spot, to explore Bitcoin opportunities. He believes that it was a “misinterpretation” that led to the ODPS ruling, and is hopeful that there will be "a compromise."

“I spoke with a regulator yesterday [April 28] and they are now reevaluating. They hope to get us an answer today or tomorrow [May 1],” said Chand.

Bitcoin Boulevard US merchants include Sweetie Fry, Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates, The Wine Spot, Shawn Paul Salon, The Tavern Company, Revive, Parnell’s Pub, The BottleHouse and The Katz Club Diner. Service businesses accepting bitcoins include Monroe Constructs and CoinNEO.

Bitcoins (aka BTC) are digital currency units, transmitted over the stateless and global payment network. The Bitcoin network validates all BTC transactions, eliminating the need for third-party private banking institutions. Businesses pay 1 percent or less in transaction fees, and have the option to settle Bitcoin revenues in dollars, bitcoins or a percentage of both.

Lisa Dunn, owner of the fair trade store Revive, explained her interest in Bitcoin technology: "The beauty of Bitcoin is its potential to use globally as payment to our partner artisans, and locally for tech-forward customers to use as payment to us."

Kevin Monroe, owner of Monroe Constructs, revealed why he began accepting bitcoins: “We are seen by our customers as an innovative design and creative renovation company, and we continue to push forward by offering our customers another option of payment and expense reduction with Bitcoin [technology]. The next logical phase would be to extend the use of Bitcoin to a B2B model with our partners and suppliers.”

Regardless of the ODPS ruling, Bitcoin Boulevard US kicks off on May 1 at the start of each business’s regular hours. Later that day, at 6 p.m., the public is invited to a Cleveland Bitcoin Meetup at The Wine Spot for an informational stroll along Bitcoin Boulevard US.

“We’re still moving forward with the event,” said Chand, “and the businesses that sell alcohol will still be part of the debate and the project. They just won’t be able to accept bitcoins, if the ruling isn’t reconsidered.”

Contact information for each participating business can be found at www.bitcoinboulevard.us. Coupons will be made available on that site, applicable towards any method of payment.

Kim Sergio Inglis

Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer. She lives in the Shaker Farm Historic District in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 6:10 PM, 04.30.2014