What can you buy with Bitcoin?
in Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin, that most famous of cryptocurrencies, the one that started it all, is best known as an investment or a statement.
People acquire it for ideological reasons, to step outside of the clutches of centralized finance. But most get Bitcoin in hopes of making a profit, eventually selling it for another currency (possibly their local fiat), when its value has accrued sufficiently to pop open the champagne and celebrate. It is sometimes an afterthought that you can actually use Bitcoin to buy goods and services. It is a proper currency with a surprisingly expansive list of companies who will accept it as payment.
The question of what can you buy with Bitcoin is, these days, a question of what can’t you buy with Bitcoin? There are players in just about every consumer market who will accept it, though almost always through a third-party service.
This article takes a look at some of the goods you can buy with Bitcoin, and also considers a blueprint of how one country set itself up as a live lab to see what would happen if almost all of the stores in a shopping center would accept it--a preview of what may be the norm in a few years’ time.
Cars, But Not the Brand You Think
The big use for Bitcoin that has received the most press is buying a Tesla. Elon Musk has been a crypto crusader and so it’s a natural fit that his Tesla cars should be purchasable in this way. Tesla stopped accepting BTC in May 2021 after media coverage of the amount of fossil fuel-generated electricity used in mining coins. (One wonders if the day will come when you can score a Tesla for Dogecoin, which requires far less electricity to mine).
But there are other cars you can buy with Bitcoin, including BMWs, though it is down to individual dealerships whether they accept them or not, rather than a brand-wide action.
And though it’s not a car, you can pay in BTC for another mode of transport. Virgin Galactic will be happy to take your $250,000 fee in Bitcoin and then fly you into space. Perhaps this is no small wonder, since Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson, is a major investor in BitPay. Legend also has it that if you pay your $250,000 in Dogecoin, Virgin will fly you to the moon--and throw in a free dog named Laika as a souvenir.
What Can You Buy with Bitcoin: Shopping
Shopping with Bitcoin is quite widespread, but it comes down to the individual vendor as to whether or not it’s possible. Some giants, like Shopify, are all in, in partnership with BitPay allowing all 75,000 or so of their merchants to accept BTC. Other big players in online shopping that accept BTC include Overstock and Expedia, the travel booking service.
Both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash can be used for shopping on Amazon, provided that you do it through the purse.io wallet.
If you’re shopping for something rather larger--a house, for instance--then you can turn to Re/Max London, a franchise of the global real estate network, which is one of the earliest to accept crypto, beginning back in 2015. They accept Bitcoin, Litecoin and even Dogecoin, so you can finally turn your Doge into a palace fit for a doge in Knightsbridge.
What Can You Buy with Bitcoin: Food and Drink
As of writing, there aren’t a lot of restaurants that accept Bitcoin directly, but there are third-party services that will essentially take your Bitcoin and then pay for your meal for you with fiat. This isn’t so elegant--it’d be nice if Domino’s would let you order your large stuffed crust with extra pepperoni with BTC directly, instead needing to use a service like Lightning Pizza--but it’s a step in the right direction.
If, instead of pizza, you’re up for a buffalo chicken footlong sub, then you’re in luck. Subway accepts Bitcoin (at least certain franchises do, even offering a 10% discount if you pay this way), as does Quiznos and Burger King (accepting at branches in Venezuela and Germany as long ago as 2019, and in the Netherlands way back in 2016) and Starbucks. Each of these chains partnered with a third-party company to facilitate accepting crypto. Starbucks uses Bakkt, while Burger King uses Cryptobuyer.
In terms of country-wide acceptance, that gustatory gargantua known as France has an estimated 15,000 restaurants accepting crypto. There are other third-party firms that will buy from all manner of restaurants for you and deliver, like the Dutch Takeaway, the South Korean Shuttledelivery and the German Lieferando.
The bottom line is that many third-party firms will accept your crypto and go buy you food. The problem with this is that it requires a middleman. It would be nice if restaurants accepted crypto payment directly, but this is still down to individual establishments and franchises.
Transaction insurance companies like Flexa, with their native AMP token, may be about to change this, though.
What Can You Buy with Bitcoin: Philanthropy
While shops are coming around to crypto slowly but surely, charities are happy to accept donations in any and all forms. While you can’t buy a Big Mac at McDonald’s with crypto (yet), you can donate in BTC to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Save the Children will also take Bitcoin, as will the African Wildlife Foundation, the Rainforest Foundation, the First Responders Children’s Foundation and scores more.
Slovenia as a Bitcoin Shopping Center
Despite a tiny footprint on Planet Earth and only two million people, Slovenia has been a torchbearer for crypto and blockchain for a decade (which counts as a very long time in the cryptoverse).
Bitstamp is the most famous of the Slovenian crypto startups, but you can also count OriginTrail, Quantum, Tokens.net, Vibrate, Blocksquare, NiceHash and Eligma (now called Elly) among many others of note.
Elly is the one that has made the biggest splash in making the acceptance of crypto as ubiquitous and easy as possible for stores and restaurants. Their smart commerce platform facilitates in-shop purchases with Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Core, Ethereum and their own Eli token through a payment network of their design called GoCrypto.
GoCrypto is available in 64 countries, and there are over 1000 stores in Slovenia using it. The proliferation of GoCrypto, or some other incarnation of the same concept, can make paying for your groceries, your spaceship ticket, your London duplex, your donation, or your Double Caramel Macchiato with Almond Milk on Shaved Ice a crypto-only experience.
BTC City, Europe’s largest shopping center (located in Ljubljana), is committed to being a “testing lab” for crypto payments, with over 100 of the 500 stores in the center already accepting crypto. Slovenia’s role as a crypto center has been duly noted in world media. Bitcoin.com produced a short documentary entitled “Slovenia is Crypto Country.” It mentions that, as of 2019, Slovenia “has more places where you can pay with Bitcoin Cash than the entire US.”
Hopefully, within a few decades from now, the US will follow countries like Slovenia into the future of finance.
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This content is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. You should consult a qualified licensed advisor before engaging in any transaction.