By Natalie Lord
Cryptocurrencies have got the monetary world, as we know it, on tiptoe. Whether supporters or naysayers, everyone has an opinion on the digital currency and boundaries on their level of investment or exposure to it.
At present, most people recognise cryptocurrencies to be an intangible currency that’s used essentially as trading stock. Yet slowly but surely it’s starting to appear in our daily lives, forcing us to recognise the magnitude of potential it has to replace physical money and stand strong as a currency to be reckoned with.
Crypto for coffee? Last year Starbucks, the popular Seattle-based coffee chain, announced that it would start accepting cryptocurrency payments by the end of 2019. Starbucks has indicated that payments would be processed and instantaneously converted into fiat via Bakkt, with the facility only available to customers in the United States initially.
Bakkt is a platform that accommodates all manner of cryptocurrency services from trading to warehousing. It’s a product of the same company that launched the New York Stock Exchange and is therefore considered a serious player. Bakkt plans to enter the market with Starbucks, but also with Microsoft and BCG. That’s like ordering a White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream on top to go!
Starbucks said it would convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars creating what is essentially an expresso ATM machine. The advantage being that there are more than 14,000 Starbucks shops in the United States, yet only about 4,000 Bitcoin ATMs around the country. Starbucks has 27,000 shops around the world which accommodate an average of 500 customers every day. That’s a daily customer base of about 13 million. If the Bakkt for brew trend takes off that’s a lot of crypto coffee.
And if, once you’ve finished at Starbucks, you fancy buying a new bed or rug, turn to Overstock, where your Bitcoin-heavy wallet will be welcomed. Overstock is a tech-driven online US retailer that sells everything from smart home systems to furniture to children’s toys. The company started accepting Bitcoin in 2014 and today accepts more than 60 cryptocurrencies in the US thanks to its partnership with the ShapeShift Exchange. Internationally, Overstock has collaborated with International Service Provider, Bongo, and Coinbase to enable payment by Bitcoin.
Online gift card company, eGifter.com, is also a cryptocurrency convert. It stocks more than 250 different brands (including iTunes, Macy’s Dunkin Donuts, Uber, Lowe’s and Target) and accepts payment in Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ether.
Microsoft first started accepting Bitcoin back in 2014, although it temporarily halted transactions in early 2018 during the crash, before restoring the facility. You can use Bitcoin to buy games, movies, and apps in the Windows and Xbox stores.
An increasing number of charities are starting to accept payment by cryptocurrency. One of the leaders in this space was an American charity called Sean’s Outpost, which is the largest provider of meals to the homeless in Florida. Today it receives most of its funding by crypto.
There’s even altcoin, called AidCoin, that’s been specifically designed to make charitable donations by cryptocurrency easier.
Payment by crypto is also available in the luxury goods arena, through a company called The White Company which sells expensive watches and rare paintings amongst a myriad of designer offerings. It accepts payment by Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or Litecoin.
A natural fit for the crypto payment method are VPN providers, given the privacy advantage that both VPN and crypto offer. AirVPN, VikingVPN, TorGuard and CloakVPN all currently accept payment by cryptocurrency and an increasing number of other VPN providers are set to follow.
As confidence in cryptocurrencies grow and usage becomes more prevalent, their uptake is likely to grow exponentially. Having a crypto cappuccino whilst browsing for kitchen cabinets and considering making a charitable donation is likely just be the start of crypto reality.