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“It’s the future”: Canton salon now accepts bitcoin payments

DryLand Salon in Canton is accepting bitcoin payments. Its owners say they believe the cryptocurrency is becoming more appealing for daily use. (Submitted Photo)

DryLand Salon in Canton is accepting bitcoin payments. Its owners say they believe the cryptocurrency is becoming more appealing for daily use. (Submitted Photo)

What can you buy with .0015 bitcoin? 

A haircut — at least at DryLand Salon, a hair salon in Canton that started accepting payments in bitcoin in January, making it one of very few businesses to do so in Baltimore.

Though only one customer has used this new payment option so far (to purchase a standard men’s haircut), owners and sisters Kate and Lynnae D’Alleva are hopeful the option will prove appealing as the cryptocurrency continues to increase in popularity and value, with Monday marking an all-time high. It rose in value beyond $44,000 after Elon Musk invested $1.5 billion in the digital currency on Monday and announced that his company, Tesla, would soon begin to accept it as payment.

Kate D’Alleva, who handles the operations of the salon, which specializes in curly hair and a highlighting style called balayage, said the decision to accept this payment wasn’t inspired by bitcoin’s day in the limelight. She’s been a fan — and a user — of the currency for years, thanks to its usability and novelty.

“I was living in New York and there was this weird pizza place where you could pay in bitcoin and it was the most bizarre thing ever,” D’Alleva said.

Years later, in 2017, her dad began asking about the digital currency, reminding her of her dormant wallet, a term for software that facilitates the exchanging of bitcoins.

“I’m sort of mad at myself for buying that last pizza” before the currency exploded in value, she joked.

DryLand decided to begin accepting payment in the form of bitcoin due to a desire to circumvent expensive credit card fees, worries that COVID-19 stimulus payments may cause inflation and the belief that bitcoin is destined to come into the mainstream as a form of payment, following in the footsteps of payment technologies like credit cards that were once obscure themselves.

“I think it’s the future,” she said.

Some experts disagree. Brent Goldfarb, an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at The University of Maryland, said bitcoin’s volatility makes it ineffective as an actual currency. If it’s expected to go up, consumers will want to hold it until it’s at its most valuable; if it’s expected to go down, they will get rid of it as quickly as possible.

“That’s bad if you’re a currency, because you really want currency to lubricate trade, not get in the way of trade,” he said.

Like any investment, D’Alleva is aware that buying bitcoin seems risky. But she believes that the cryptocurrency will only continue to increase in value as more and more people — and companies — begin using it.

For those wary of investing, though, DryLand is eventually planning to begin accepting some alternative cryptocurrencies, such as USD Coin, which is always equivalent to the value of the dollar.

To pay with bitcoin at DryLand, a customer must take out their wallet and scan a QR code that allows them to send bitcoin to the salon. The QR page displays two numbers — what is being paid in bitcoin and what is being paid in U.S. dollars. Currently. a $66 DryLand haircut costs just .0015 bitcoin.

But the salon won’t just be using bitcoin for in-person transactions. The salon is planning to put out a line of curly-hair care products soon, a project that was originally delayed by COVID-19. D’Alleva wants to be able to ship the products internationally, and customers who pay with bitcoin will be able to avoid conversion fees.

“If we sell this online and people in other countries want to buy it, then offering the ability to buy in bitcoin helps to bridge that annoying gap of the transaction fees,” she said.

Despite not believing in the bright future for bitcoin, Goldfarb noted that there is little risk in using it as part of your business model — unless you put all of your money into bitcoin, which will be next to impossible unless many more companies begin to accept it as payment.

“Rent isn’t in bitcoin and electricity isn’t in bitcoin,” he said.

For now, D’Alleva is hopeful that other businesses in the Baltimore area will eventually follow in DryLand’s footsteps and begin accepting bitcoin themselves.

“This city is so ready for any tech,” she says, “So I’m really surprised others haven’t jumped on this.”

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