Making cryptocurrencies a part of your everyday life is probably easier than you think. Yes, most advice is about investing and storing value through crypto, but that isn’t all there is to it. Many people are already using crypto to replace money in many transactions, especially if they are purchasing across borders or if they’re on vacation. In the not too distant future, we can expect to see even greater adoption and more places that accept crypto payments.
Many retailers are already accepting Bitcoin and other major cryptos, but it appears that most of them are small local businesses. Larger companies like Microsoft, Starbucks (and possibly Tesla) also accept it – typically with limitations. Microsoft accepts crypto to purchase items on Xbox. AT&T accepts bitcoin through a specific exchange. And there are also services that make spending crypto easier than finding a merchant or company willing and able to accept crypto directly.
Crypto is gaining in popularity every day, and not just for investors. It’s adoption and acceptance is growing around the world.
This model is fairly typical. Bigger institutions are watching the small businesses that adopt it, learning lessons from them, and after they are satisfied with the ROI, they’ll start experimenting on their own, often at a smaller scale.
How to Buy Stuff with Crypto Today
Despite the growth of crypto in the last decade or so, it is not the most convenient method of direct payment. It is fairly easy to purchase, and sell crypto, but it hasn’t yet become as convenient as your nation’s money. Unless you live in El Salvador, but that’s a whole other story.
Some companies have stepped in to try and solve the problem. Small business owners can adopt crypto quite easily, by opening a crypto wallet and accepting the payments directly. Pretty simple to set up. Not hard to use but this may feel more like a Kijiji transaction than the typical experience of paying for something in a store with a bank card. Also it’s hard for customers to know who accepts this and also more difficult for the business owner to manage converting the crypto thye receive back into fiat and complying with regulations and tax laws.
Large companies, like AT&T partner with large crypto companies to mitigate risk. Home Depot partnered with Flexa so some of their stores can accept crypto. Most of this is still limited in geographic accessibility. Suffice it to say universal adoption (and convenience) is still ways off.
Some startups issue both Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards tethered to crypto accounts, making their use at NFC terminals indistinguishable from their traditional analogues.
Coinbase, Shakepay and other exchanges now offer a crypto card. According to Coinbase, you can now spend crypto everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
Use crypto to buy Amazon gift cards or prepaid Visas and you can buy just about anything.
Buying prepaid credit cards or gift cards offers a lot of options for spending.
This is probably the best and easiest option for most people.
Let’s say you wanted to buy a new iPad Pro and instead of shelling out $800, you decided to take some profits from that Bitcoin you bought back in 2017.
Just use an apple gift card and order it online. Or take that gift card – which comes as an email these days – right into the store and pick one out.
There are a few places that sell gift cards and accept crypto payments. One of the better options is CoinCards. They allow their customers (USA and Canada for now), to buy prepaid Visas or Mastercards and Gift cards from major retailers. Obviously you can buy just about anything on or offline with a prepaid Visa. They also offer electronic Gift cards that arrive in your inbox almost immediately or you can opt for physical cards that you can carry in your wallet.
CoinCards offers hundreds of gift cards including: Amazon, Apple, SportChek, Home Depot, The Running Room to name just a few. The list is updated from time to time so not all the options are always available. Ticketmaster was available at one time but as of today, they aren’t listed. You may have to check back periodically.
CoinCards was founded in 2014 and is based in Canada.
Coincards is very convenient but it’s worth pointing out that they’re a retail business, and so buying from them is not free. You’ll have to pay a 5% “convenience fee” on most gift cards while Visa or Mastercard charges fees of up to $8 per card depending on the balance you load on to them. Of course if you choose to buy physical cards you’ll also have to wait for them to be delivered.
So that iPad Pro will cost you $800 plus an additional 5% equalling $40. Bottom line: it’s still worth it if you think it’s still worth it.
All in all Coincards is a great option for spending crypto and they cover a lot of bases. And the alternative might be NOT spending your crypto on sneakers, hardware or flights.
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What about PayPal?
Paypal got into the cryptocurrency game in early 2021, through PayPal Cash accounts in the USA. The first thing some lucky customers could do was to hold onto cryptocurrency, after they bought it. But they could not sell it, trade it, or move it. This kind of defeats the purpose of cryptocurrency, as the use is restricted closely by the custodian not open for the user.
Since then, Paypal has added more features, as in the ability to sell the crypto back to Paypal. In the Continental USA (including Alaska) you can now allow Paypal to exchange your crypto for US dollars and let you purchase items that way. They’ve partnered with Paxos Crypto Brokerage, and they have a great deal of influence on the exchange rates. They will disclose them at time of exchange, but they don’t have any numbers that will allow you to predict the fees.
Paypal is expanding their Crypto offerings through 2021, however, they still do not allow a customer to use the most innovative features of crypto including allowing a customer to move the crypto to a private wallet. Perhaps they’ll enter more markets in 2022, and allow customers access to some of these basic crypto features sometime in the future.
Industries and Adoption
As a result of those three options, virtually every industry already accepts cryptocurrencies as either a means of payment. The companies that are most active in integrating Bitcoin cross industries, from construction to retail.
Among the retail giants that have opted to accept cryptocurrencies as means of payment are Overstock, Home Depot, eBay, or Walmart. Each one has chosen to partner with an external company to allow such integration. On top of this, to option to spend crypto is limited. Not every cryptocurrency is available, (mostly Bitcoin) and the convenience of these payment services are nowhere near global. If someone says that every Home Depot accepts Bitcoin, they may be teasing you.
The retail giants rely upon companies like Flexa, Coingate, and Lykke who are experts in crypto payment. If you want to know if your local big box store accepts crypto, see where these networks have a presence.
The food giants were among the first to start using cryptocurrencies, especially some like Starbucks. Starbucks knows its audience only too well and taps into its tech-savvy customers. To use Crypto, you have to transfer a balance into your Starbucks app, and then you can spend it on that triple no foam coconut milk latte. Yum. They partnered with a company called Ipayyou to enable this.
Coca Cola Company partnered with Centrapay to explore allowing crypto spending on vending machines. They are experimenting with Amatil’s streamline crypto payments on Amatils’ vending machines. We suspect these machines are limited to the Asia Pacific region, (mostly New Zealand and Austrailia) but perhaps they’ll expand to other locations soon.
If you live in a large city, you should be able to find some independent grocery stores, like Edmonton Grocer in Edmonton. Some local restaurants like Bin 9 Salads in Coeur D’lane accepts Bitcoin. Find out more Bitcoin accepting restaurants near you on Bitcoinwide.com.
Travelling with Bitcoin is a reality. In fact it is one of the big benefits of it, as Bitcoin is not blocked by borders. On top of that many travel companies allow you to buy tickets with cryptocurrencies. Coinbase partnered with Expedia to allow crypto payments. Surf Air, a small company out of California, designed their own system in house. Travala accepts the USDT amongst it’s payment methods. In Prague, and eastern europe in particular, it seems that crypto adoption is spiking.
Thus, if you want to finance your trip through bitcoin alone, it is easily possible.
The big tech giants are adopting crypto comparatively rapidly. The giants are more risk averse then their smaller cousins and even then, they may only be dipping their big toes into the tepid water. Tesla’s locations accept bitcoin payments, as Elon dove headlong into the crypto space. Few others have followed with such gusto. Microsoft may support Online payments with Bitcoin, but our investigations have found it difficult to confirm. and a long list of others have been offering their products for cryptocurrencies. Online electronics store Newegg partnered with Bitpay to allow crypto payments. It looks like your best bet to buy something at Bestbuy is with a gift card. 🙁
And here we thought Best Buy might have been changing their customer services practices.
Gaming is in a league of its own with crypto adoption, as entire metaverses are being deployed, where users can access endless digital environments filled with items up for sale for both platform-native and popular cryptocurrencies. Brands, both luxury and mass market, are seeping into the decentralized environment, offering their products in digital format with tethering to real-world objects. Users can visit digital versions of shops in metaverses created by Bit.Country, or Trace Network, where such brands and Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, real estate agencies, and a host of others can brandish mind-boggling display cases that put even the bravest of engineering solutions in Dubai or Singapore to Earth-bound shame. By leveraging the power of NFTs, the digital environment opens endless possibilities for buying unique digital items.
Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) are now being adopted by large international companies. It’s gained a firm foothold in the tech sector. Hundreds of millions are investing in it, and it is getting great PR. Dozens of websites like Coinmap allow you to figure out where to spend it.
We’ll all have to be patient for a bit longer until it truly becomes a payment option that’s accepted everywhere like the dollar. Until then look at Gift Card and Prepaid Visa as a pretty good option to cover a lot of bases.
- Discovering where and how to spend it directly is still a bit of a challenge.
- Using gift cards and prepaid credit cards is the easiest way to spend crypto on a wide variety of goods and services.
- Small businesses near you might accept bitcoin, you’ll just need to find them.
- Several large companies accept crypto as payment.
- PayPal has started accepting crypto use and payments but with far too many limitations.
- Crypto payments are going to be mainstream sooner than later, but we still have a ways to go.