Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of a single unit of Bitcoin has skyrocketed from below $10,000 to over $53,000, as eager investors around the world rush to join in on the cryptocurrency market frenzy.
Part of the attraction in adopting Bitcoin as a digital asset is due to it being a finite currency and a hedge against inflation.
To be useful as a currency, an important question needs to be answered: can people use Bitcoin to shop for everyday items?
The answer is yes. Several companies have introduced new and improved payment methods to sell products using cryptocurrency.
In 2014, American internet retailer Overstock became one of the first big online sellers to accept direct Bitcoin payments. A few years later, others started to follow suit.
PayPal joined the cryptocurrency market last October, allowing customers to buy, sell and hold Bitcoin and other virtual coins using the US digital payments company’s online wallets.
Tesla, which made headlines by investing $1.5 billion in Bitcoin earlier this month, announced it will begin accepting it as a form of payment for its products in the near future.
However, the company also underlined that these cryptocurrency transactions will be “subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis.”
Even though many businesses don't accept direct Bitcoin payments, there are other ways to spend it.
A useful tracker is BitcoinWide. It lists companies that accept Bitcoin and regularly updates its database.
Many retail investors buy Bitcoin now through companies like Coinbase and BitPay. They operate as exchanges, processing trades between buyers and sellers.
Here are a few areas in which people can purchase goods or services via Bitcoin.
- Online gift cards
Although retail giants like Amazon and BestBuy don't accept it yet, people can purchase goods by using third-party services.
For example, eGifter permits customers to use Bitcoin to buy gift cards from Walmart, Apple, Uber, Adidas and Amazon.
Purse, a third-party payment service, can be used for purchasing goods from Amazon. It works by allowing the customer to select the items they want to buy on Amazon. They then copy the URL and return to Purse, which processes the transaction using the gift cards it’s acquired from people who used the cryptocurrency.
- Video games, bill payments
People can also purchase video games from their Bitcoin wallets. Microsoft has accepted it as "a payment option to buy apps, games and other digital content from Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video Stores."
AT&T became the first major US mobile carrier to accept cryptocurrency payments in 2019. The American telecoms giant allows the processing of online bill payments through BitPay, a popular Bitcoin payment service provider.
- Hotels, airline tickets, and ordering food
In recent years, an increasing number of hotels around the world have started to accept Bitcoin in their reservations.
Additionally, some applications in Apple and Android stores make it possible to buy airline tickets by converting Bitcoin to fiat money.
Norwegian Air, the largest airline company in Scandinavia and Europe’s third-largest budget airline, reportedly plans to approve this way of paying for tickets.
People can also order food from certain KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Subway branches using Bitcoin.
Apart from purchasing services via Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency can even be used for making donations.
Wikimedia Foundation which hosts sites like Wikipedia, the world’s largest open-source encyclopedia, accepts donations in Bitcoin through BitPay and converts it to US dollars.
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