Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been making headlines recently due to their fluctuation in value. In mid-December, Bitcoin reached a historic high of €14,603 per coin but lost nearly one-third of its value just five days later.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a global digital money that is created by code. Users can buy and trade the currency and remain completely anonymous. Crypto is global and fast. It doesn’t matter if you send a Bitcoin, for example, to your neighbour or to your friend across the world, the transaction will be completed in a matter of minutes thanks to the global network the currency is traded on.
One drawback of paying in cryptocurrency is that transactions are irreversible. Once the money is sent it is not possible to reverse the transaction. If one accidentally orders something or sends the wrong amount, nobody can help. This is because of the fluctuation in value and anonymity of the users.
Bitcoin and More
Most people are familiar with Bitcoin, but there are other cryptocurrencies. Litecoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies. It is commonly referred to as “silver” compared to Bitcoin’s “gold”. Ripple, Ethereum and Dash are a few of the alternatives to Bitcoin.
What can one buy with cryptocurrency?
Almost anything. From hotel stays, to food, to supercars, below are some companies that accept the virtual currency.
Airlines and Travel
AirBaltic accepts payment in Bitcoin for economy class fares for most flights. Flights to China, Indonesia, India, Iceland, Jordan, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan and Vietnam cannot be paid for with the cryptocurrency. The company used to charge a fee for using Bitcoin, but now customers can pay freely with the currency and not be charged.
Cheapair.com was the first US website to accept Bitcoin for travel back in 2013. You can still use Bitcoin to book hotels, flights and car rentals on the site.
Expedia allows customers to pay for hotels with Bitcoin. Unfortunately, you can’t buy flights.
BTCTrip is a travel website tailored for customers paying in Bitcoin. All the prices listed on the website are in BTC and LTC (Bitcoin and Litecoin). The site even has the current price of both currencies listed at the top.
One Shot Hotels is a Spanish chain with hotels in Madrid, Valencia, Seville and Saint Sebastian. The hotels in Madrid accept Bitcoin. One of these hotels even has a Bitcoin ATM.
Food and Drink
Takeaway.com is a European online food-ordering company. In 2013, the company announced they would be accepting Bitcoin in the Netherlands, but now customers can pay with BTC in eight countries in the EU.
Common Household Items
Overstock.com sells over one million products from kitchen utensils to pillows to rugs, all of which you can pay for with Bitcoin.
Supercars, and… Regular Cars
Donations and Charities
Through the BitGive Foundation, you can donate to different nonprofits and charity projects with the click of a button. The Water Project and Save the Children are two prominent nonprofit groups that have teamed up with the Foundation to make it easy to donate.
Big companies such as Amazon and Starbucks have not yet allowed customers to pay with crypto…but there is a way to cheat the system. Gift card retailer GiftOff accepts cryptocurrencies to buy gift cards for 77 different companies. You can pay for these cards in crypto and then use them to shop. Some of the gift cards you can buy include Amazon, Starbucks, Nike, Primark and Ticketmaster.
Paying with cryptocurrency is similar to sending an email. Just as you would send a message to an email address you can also send an amount of money to a Bitcoin address.
Customers can also pay with a QR code that has a specific address and payment amount attached to it. Many retailers that accept crypto require a QR code for added security.
To make paying in crypto easier, you can use a payment platform. Some of the more well known of these platforms include BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin. These platforms are essentially like PayPal and Apple Wallet. You load your cryptocurrency onto the wallet and can use it to pay at stores that use the crypto platform.
BitFlyer, a Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange platform, received its license to run its service in the EU on Tuesday. The company said they have traded more than $250 billion on the platform after launching in the US in November 2017.
Is Crypto the New Cash?
Cryptocurrencies are becoming more mainstream. Many financial experts question the value of the currency.
Crypto can be used for regular trading, but it can also be used for illegal activities. The Silk Road was an anonymous black market online. The site was shut down in 2013 by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation after people were using cryptocurrencies to buy illegal drugs. The government claimed $48 million from the sale of the over 140,000 bitcoins seized from the Silk Road.
The UK wants to force Bitcoin users to reveal their identities. The country is working on legislation to crack down on people using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to buy illegal drugs.