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Accepting Bitcoin at this Norwegian bar during a bull run was almost ‘criminal’

At a drinks party in Norway, the surge in the price per Bitcoin (BTC) over the weekend posed a potentially ‘criminal’ issue for the landlord.

A pre-party for the Northern Lightning Bitcoin conference, Norway’s first major Bitcoin conference, was hosted at Rick’s Bar and Nightclub in Bergen. The bar staff was equipped with Bitcoin wallets courtesy of LNBits, which provides free open-source Bitcoin lightning wallet accounts so that customers could spend Sats (the smallest denomination of a Bitcoin) rather than Norwegian Kroner. 

The bar would not HODL the Bitcoin it received; it was instead trialing Bitcoin as a payment method. Erik Dale, the Northern Lightning organizer and “troublemaker-in-chief,” told Cointelegraph, that the “Bar got terminals that went to my BTC address, and then I settled the bill in kroner.”

However, by the end of the night, the price per Bitcoin had pumped so much over the course of the evening, from $25,000 to $27.500, that the bar would technically have sold drinks at a discount when Eric settled the bill. Eric told Cointelegraph:

“Well, since kroner was the unit of account, the price in BTC went down as BTC went up and we pumped through the night, so by the time I had to pay I had to convert far less BTC to kroner than what I had received to cover the bill. Thus making a profit on discounted alcohol, which is strictly illegal.”

In Norway, the drinking laws are tighter than in other parts of Europe. Beer is relatively expensive while drinking in the street is prohibited. Eric continues: “Happy hours are illegal in Norway. You’re not allowed to have any offers or ads for alcohol.”

Rick’s Bar in Bergen, Norwaywhere the event was held.

In conversation with Rick’s bar staff, the team was surprised at how fast and how easy it was to accept Bitcoin via the Lightning Network, a layer-2 payments solution built atop Bitcoin. However, they were reluctant to accept tips in Bitcoin–preferring payment in the rapidly debasing Norwegian Krone. 

Related: Going cashless: Norway’s digital currency project raises privacy questions

Fortunately, the police were not informed and the Bitcoin enthusiasts were able to continue the conference peacefully, Eric concludes:

“So the outcome would have been very criminal with heavy penalties if it has been because of anything else, but because it was just Bitcoin pumping I wasn’t actually breaking any laws.”

Northern Lightning is reportedly the first of a string of Bitcoin conference in Scandinavia.