In the last twelve months, the value of a single unit of Bitcoin has risen from less than $ 10,000 to more than $ 30,000.
In the last twelve months, the value of a single unit of Bitcoin has risen from less than $ 10,000 to more than $ 30,000. Companies like Square and IBM are using blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, to design and improve digital payment methods.
However, what can you really buy with bitcoins?
Turns out a lot of things. Of course, it will not always be easy.
“Bitcoin just isn’t the most efficient currency yet,” opined Henry Elder, director of wealth management at Wave Financial, a Los Angeles-based digital asset firm.
For example, you can buy products with bitcoins on Amazon, using another service called Purse.
Purse is supposed to work as follows: a customer chooses the items they want to buy from Amazon, then copies the URLs and returns to Purse, where the transaction is processed through gift cards that the service acquired from people who want cryptocurrencies. .
Purse guarantees its customers a minimum discount of five percent off list prices on Amazon and adds the option to negotiate to receive up to 15 percent.
I tried to get a pack of 20 black KN95 masks for $ 42.99 with money I put in a Bitcoin wallet, but when it came time to click “buy,” the total price – with commissions – was 47.47 dollars, and that included the eight percent discount that I proposed to pay.
As I had received a message in a pop-up window from a Purse customer service representative named Eduardo who wrote to me from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to offer technical assistance, I wanted to contact him and I received an automated message saying that Eduardo was “away” and that the average response time to resolve doubts was a couple of hours.
The whole thing seemed like ordering something at UberEats, except that at the end of the process there wasn’t even a bag of cold food. In short, it was not like buying directly from Amazon with just one click.
In 2014, Overstock became one of the first e-commerce sellers to accept direct payments with bitcoins. Subsequently, he created several blockchain-related businesses.
In an interview last week, the CEO of the company, Jonathan Johnson, made it clear that there is no obvious coincidence between the sale of couches in liquidation and the rethinking of the world’s major currencies. Bitcoin is not a very large source of income for Overstock.
During the first three quarters of 2020, the site earned nearly $ 2 billion in revenue, according to its earnings reports. An average of between $ 30,000 and $ 50,000 a week came from cryptocurrencies, according to Johnson. “Our demographic leans a lot towards women, and Bitcoin buyers are often men,” he said. “It is a different segment of customers.”
In essence, Bitcoin apparently became a payment option because its values aligned with the libertarian tendencies of both Johnson and Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.
However, at times, wild swings in bitcoin’s value have created complications for Overstock, specifically when it comes to earnings. Although Johnson pointed out that when making the payment the company had always been clear that the refund would be equal to the dollar price of the item (and not the amount of bitcoins spent), people had complained anyway, sometimes out of confusion, others not.
“We weren’t going to let people use their sheets as a hedge against a drop in the price of Bitcoin,” he said. “They tell us, ‘I bought my patio furniture for 0.1 bitcoins, and now you only reimburse me for 0.08 bitcoins?” Our answer is yes ”.
One industry that has been something of a pioneer in the adoption of bitcoin is pornography. Like that of sex work.
Mindgeek, the largest conglomerate in the industry, accepts cryptocurrencies on its sites. The same is true with Chaturbate.
There are certain coincidences between pornography and cryptocurrencies. Men often hide their pornography consumption; Bitcoin was designed around the idea that it could be used anonymously.
There is no name directly linked to the bitcoin that someone owns. Instead, the owner of one has a private key that allows the creation of a password known only to this person.
The records are kept by means of a digital ledger available to the public, known as a blockchain, which is managed by an army of volunteers from various servers. It resets in real time when transactions occur between different bitcoin owners.
That army of volunteers will not mediate product disputes, so “you can’t back out of cryptocurrency transactions like you can with Visa and Mastercard,” said Lilly Sparks, an entrepreneur from Austin, Texas, who in 2020 founded Afterglow, a site designed to link pornography with “sexual well-being.”
Additionally, Sparks noted that a hallmark of porn consumption is that her fans try not to pay for it.
Perhaps predictably, the lack of leadership in bitcoins (and other forms of cryptocurrencies) has generated some appeal among people who buy and sell contraband.
On Discord, the messaging app, I contacted a user using the pseudonym Perc, who, in a phone interview, described his background of drug dealing that he bought thanks to Silk Road, a darknet marketplace that the FBI closed in 2013.
After paying vendors through his Bitcoin wallet, Perc commented that the products were kept in things like stuffed animals and sent to a PO box that he created. Nonetheless, the growing demand for Bitcoin among stock market investors has greatly influenced these associations to depreciate, Perc and others commented.
Many investors in the retail industry buy Bitcoin through companies such as Coinbase and Bitbay, which operate as exchanges, processing transactions between buyers and sellers.
As such, codes that were once anonymous are turning into the opposite. More and more retailers are setting up payment systems that enable bitcoin transactions.
Among the largest are Microsoft, AT&T, and Home Depot. Additionally, apps in the Apple and Android stores make it possible for crypto connoisseurs to purchase airline tickets by converting bitcoin to fiat money in real time.
If Bitcoin is the Coca-Cola of cryptocurrencies, Ethereum is Pepsi. Many traditional retailers that are entering the world of cryptocurrencies give their customers the option to use either one. (Craigslist has the option to transact cryptocurrency between individual sellers.)
Johnson, the CEO of Overstock, commented that now when he goes to church, he answers questions from “75-year-old grandmothers who want to know about Bitcoin.”
In June, Mastercard announced that it was launching a cryptocurrency-based debit card in partnership with Bitpay that will be usable at more than 3,000 stores globally. In October, PayPal signaled that it was giving customers in the United States the ability to buy, sell, or store cryptocurrencies on its platforms. Later this year, those customers will also be able to shop with them.