Making payments with crypto
Less than ten years old, crypto is poised to become an accepted currency for digital payments across a number of industries all around the globe. In the past few weeks alone, Square has secured a patent for a cryptocurrency payments network, and Coinbase has released a plugin that enables WooCommerce webstores to accept payments in Bitcoin and Litecoin (for now; Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash will be added at some point). There are other such integrations – Coingate and Shopify offer similar gateways – but there are few actual stores that accept crypto as such.
A major point of contention was Amazon’s potential openness to Bitcoin payments, or its desire to start a cryptocurrency of its own. That, however, is for now mere wild speculation, and there is no actual sign of crypto-friendliness from the online giant.
You will find hundreds of websites that, at least in theory, are willing to take your crypto. Most of them, however, are relatively unknown or part of the crypto universe. The truth is, only a few major companies do accept crypto. The net winner here is Microsoft, which takes crypto in both its Windows and Xbox stores. Some of the more relevant webstores where you can spend your Bitcoin are listed below. Bear in mind, though, that most use gateways such as Coinbase or BitPay, and most of them won’t take anything else than Bitcoin.
4Chan (remember them?) for some paid services
BigFishGames, a low-cost games platform
Bloomberg, a news platform
Cable TV company Dish
Online marketplace Etsy
Expedia, online travel booking website
Gyft, an online gift card that intermediates to Amazon, iTunes and more
Mint, a budgeting app
The MIT bookstore
Online retailer Newegg
Online retailer Overstock
PureVPN, a (you guessed it) VPN service
Tesla. You know who they are.
Gaming platform Steam
Subway stores – careful, though; not all of them!
Wikipedia accepts crypto donations
Not a very impressive list, you might think. Well, not bad, either, considering how young crypto is. Crypto does, however, need all the brand power it can get behind it to become a truly standardized e-commerce currency. And for that to happen, a couple of things are needed:
- Truly secure wallets. On the buyers’ side, this is essential. Wallets are, to some extent, hackable. (Even when they’re not hacked, their owners are easily fooled by one changed letter or figure, thus redirecting the money to a mirror site or some other scamming trick. But that’s another topic.)
- Stable prices. On the merchants’ side, there is little incentive in integrating a massive operation with the possibility of prices dropping by 20% within a week. We cannot expect massive adoption until the market is relatively flat.
- Smaller transaction fees (and faster transactions, if we’re to dream on). Again on the buyers’ side, this is a sore point. Transaction fees are higher the faster you want them processed, and they are not exactly easy to estimate. Even when you pay for fast Bitcoin processing, let’s say within six blocks, it will still take an hour to get it done. And the fastest Bitcoin processing will still take ten minutes. Depending on what the Bitcoin price is, the fee itself will vary, but if you’ve got large payments or several transactions, this whole process can set you back quite a bit, money- and time-wise.
Until these few creases are ironed out, chances are that not a great deal of mainstream retailers will be willing to jump on the band wagon.