It’s 2018 and Bitcoin is still in vogue, the fascination with the currency nowhere near the end. Not much has changed since the historical price surge, widespread academic interest and major investments in 2017 ignited heated public discussions. If anything, the idea of Bitcoin’s successful integration into the financial mainstream has now received a new dimension, where the outcome seems tangible and real for the currency of the future. Leaving aside the arguments pro and contra, Bitcoin is immensely popular with more and more people seeking to incorporate digital money into everyday lives. Retailers, online shopping stores and portals are embracing Bitcoin in greater numbers – over 100,000 merchants now offer this possibility as a regular payment method, next to fiat currencies and credit cards. Many view Bitcoin primarily as an investment asset and a stake for the future, preferring to hold what they have obtained waiting for just the right moment to make the next move. Others simply want to use it for micro-transactions and smaller purchases, counting on quick processing times and other supposed advantages of decentralized, peer-to-peer, non-inflationary money. We really can buy a host of products using Bitcoin as payment: clothes, performance tickets, hotel stay, gadgets, games, parking, you name it.
Even if Bitcoin has, in reality, an imaginary worth in the value we assign to a single coin, as some opposing experts like to put it, it is still not much different than using credit cards for example. It is a legitimate form of transaction accepted by many established, respectable retailers, though the whole process does involve certain risks not found in traditional banking. Aside from shady merchants, there’s the issue of volatility with up to 30% fluctuations in a matter of days. Transaction costs and high fees tie into the problem, and then there’s the issue of speed or rather unreasonable waiting times which are currently being worked upon by programmers worldwide. Despite the obstacles, we harbor hope for this currency and its potential to transform the way the world trades. The fact that major companies like Microsoft offer Bitcoin support is encouraging to all enthusiastic users.
Windows and Xbox Goods
After a short hiatus, Bitcoin was re-introduced into Microsoft digital wallets in January 2018. Previously withdrawn due to high fees and issues caused by volatility and wild fluctuations in value, Windows and Xbox online stores now accept Bitcoin deposits which, in small amounts, can be redeemed as US dollars. If you like movies, video games or handy apps, you can chip your crypto stash to purchase one of these goods from Microsoft.
CheapAir is currently the only online travel agency where you can book a flight using Bitcoin as a method of payment. The forward-thinking agency decided to embrace the trending digital currency in 2013 after a customer inquired about the option. Seeking to make booking easy, Bitcoin seemed like an ideal solution for low-cost international and local airfare and has been on the company’s banking list ever since. They plan to extend to option to hotel amenities and iOS app purchases.
Shopify and Etsy
Popular Canadian e-commerce platform, Shopify functions similarly to eBay, but the crucial difference is the business model used. The former is essentially a retail shop, where you can establish a store selling your own unique products and creating a brand, as opposed to the marketplace that is the latter. Bitcoin is an accepted method citing low fees, fast payments, and no chargeback or fraud risks connected to the internationally available currency.
The situation with Etsy is currently a bit tricky – officially, Bitcoin is not accepted. However, some sellers are willing to make arrangements by allowing buyers to checkout without paying via traditional methods. Instead, customers receive a Bitcoin wallet address and are then able to submit the payment not only in Bitcoin, but also in any actively circulating cryptocurrency.
Both e-platforms offer an unimaginable variety of products for just about anyone: whatever you need, chances are you’ll find it here.
Gambling on the internet is an activity where Bitcoin proved immensely beneficial. This is very much true for gamblers from the USA, where internet wagering, online casinos and betting shops are banned by law and national banks ordered to block any casino-related transactions via electronic methods. Digital cash comes handy, eliminating the need for third-party institutions and creating an environment of a much-needed anonymity for users. Many gaming sites are now accepting alternative cryptocurrencies for both deposits and withdrawals, some gambling operators specializing in digital payments with bonuses, promotions and other incentives designed to accommodate Bitcoin players.
Coinbase, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, collaborates with Expedia, a popular travel agency, to provide Bitcoin hotel booking. Speed and security were the main reasons why Expedia decided to venture into this new field of technological wonders and improve the online travel experience. Prices are in U.S. dollars, but customers can choose to pay in Bitcoin. For now, only domestic and foreign hotels are available for shopping, but soon you’ll be able to purchase flights and other products on offer.