Which of the largest companies accept Bitcoin?
in Bitcoin (BTC)
As more people are buying and using Bitcoin, the number of shops and vendors that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method is growing also. But how many companies accept crypto in 2021, in which stores can you spend your Bitcoin, and how do Bitcoin ATMs work?
Businesses accepting Bitcoin as a medium of exchange
A frequent criticism aimed at cryptocurrency from multinational banking organisations is that cryptocurrencies ‘will never be used as a medium of exchange’ because they cannot be used to buy anything useful.
For anyone familiar with the world of crypto, it goes without saying that cryptocurrency is already being used as a medium of exchange, it’s just that most of this exchange of value is happening within a new and exciting decentralised financial ecosystem. But this new, open-sourced and customisable version of finance is a very threatening place indeed for large multinationals who are accustomed to almost total control and power.
It’s also well-documented that many of the same companies who decry Bitcoin and crypto are also working on the development of their own, private, centralised cryptocurrencies, which will in theory allow them to continue the same levels of surveillance, exclusion and data-hoarding à la internet banking 1.0.
But these things aside, it’s also not true that Bitcoin can’t be used to buy normal, everyday things outside of the world of crypto.
Large companies that accept Bitcoin as a payment
It will come as no surprise that tech companies are some of the first who accept Bitcoin as payment. Microsoft accounts can be topped up using Bitcoin (which is good news for Skype users), as can Twitch accounts, showing once again that gaming and crypto go hand-in-hand.
Tesla recently announced a 1.5 billion purchase of Bitcoin with their cash reserves, and also their intention to accept Bitcoin as payment for their electric vehicles. Apple is rumoured to be the next big tech company to become crypto converts.
Wikipedia, The Pirate Bay and Internet Archive (a worldwide depository for free and loanable ebooks and audiobooks) all accept donations in Bitcoin, with Wikipedia also accepting donations in Ether and Bitcoin Cash.
VPNs and Web Hosting services pretty much accept cryptocurrency across the board, including Monero (XMR), which is useful if you’re privacy-conscious and want to avoid having your identity linked to certain domains or IP addresses.
Gift cards for thousands of eligible stores can be purchased on Gyft.com for no extra fee, and perhaps best of all, users of Amazon can connect Purse.io to the site and buy anything they wish using Bitcoin. Paypal also famously announced their support for crypto in 2020, which opens up websites such as eBay and well-known airlines for indirect cryptocurrency payments.
Smaller businesses that accept Bitcoin payments, and ATMs
Many smaller businesses around the world have accepted Bitcoin as payment for their services, although some have since retracted the option due to the long wait (sometimes up to 45 minutes) for processing the transaction. These wait times should decrease dramatically in the future, but we’ll discuss this later in the article.
For now, a comprehensive world map of cafes, clothes shops, grocery stores, hotels and bars that accept cryptocurrency payments can be found here.
An increasing number of sports clubs and venues are accepting Bitcoin payments for game tickets and merchandise, with notable examples being the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Dolphins, the San Jose Earthquakes and Benfica Football Club of Portugal. Football clubs Paris Saint Germain and Juventus (of Turin, Italy) even went one step further by creating their very own tokens on Chiliz, a blockchain that is focused on fan tokenization.
Another way in which crypto is becoming increasingly accepted is via the Bitcoin ATM (or BTM), basically a computer that is able to dispense cash and scan Bitcoin wallet addresses. You can feed in cash and have it sent to your wallet in BTC, or spend the BTC from your wallet and withdraw it in cash. If you don’t already have a wallet, the BTM will generate and print out a paper wallet which you can use for accessing your BTC later on.
The good thing about using BTMs is that you can instantly turn your BTC into cash, without needing to send it through a centralized exchange / fiat-off ramp. It also provides newcomers with a simple and familiar way in which they can get exposure to cryptocurrencies.
The process also protects privacy and anonymity, although some BTM manufacturers have now started to do KYC (Know Your Customer) ID checks as standard.
One downside of using Bitcoin ATMs in place of a normal exchange is the high fees that are charged on top of the crypto-fiat exchange rate, which vary depending on the manufacturer, but can be as high as 10% per transaction. It’s probably wise to check the fees associated with each BTM before using them.
According to Coin Radar, there are over 15,000 crypto ATMs worldwide offering not only Bitcoin but other cryptocurrencies such as Ether, Dash, and Monero.
Businesses that accept debit cards also accept Bitcoin
A number of centralized crypto companies have created visa debit cards that allow you to load up your card with crypto, and then spend it instantly. Therefore it can be said that any company that accepts visa debit as a payment option, also accepts bitcoin.
European crypto holders can use the Coinbase visa debit card, which allows people in the UK and the large majority of European states (currently excluding Germany, Switzerland and the Balkan States) to instantly spend any crypto that they have in their Coinbase accounts. Like the Coinbase exchange itself though, the card does have comparatively high fees.
Crypto users in the US can use the Bitpay visa debit card across all 50 states, although a home address and government-issued ID is required upon application. The card supports centralized, US-based stable coins (such as GUSD and USDC) and charges no transaction fees for usage.
Users in the Asia-Pacific region have access to Wirex, which supports a raft of fiat currencies such as AUD and HKD, whereas Binance users might prefer to use Binance’s own debit card, which offers cashback on purchases in BNB coin.
The recent announcement that Mastercard will support cryptocurrency payments suggests that more centralized solutions are currently in the works, although Bitcoin isn’t necessarily going to be one of the currencies accepted by the payment network and their partners.
Mastercard were briefly on board with Facebook’s Libra stable coin project, and will likely be looking to support other centralized stable coins such as USDC and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) that will soon be emerging out of countries such as China.
Many world governments and multinationals will be banking on CBDCs being able to take advantage of blockchain technology and bring their vision of large scale surveillance and data hoarding into the 21st century.
Will we sacrifice our economic freedom for convenience? One emerging technology may yet prove to be a game changer.
The Lightning Network can electrify global finance
With a fully-realised Lightning Network, accepting Bitcoin as payment will become a pleasure, not a chore. With the prospect of instant micropayments, microscopic transaction fees and increasing anonymity, it’s no wonder the Bitcoin community have been bullish on this technology since it was first proposed back in 2015.
There is still more work to be done to make the network user-friendly, but as applications start being built on top of Bitcoin (see point 2 of our recent article, Crucial Bitcoin Predictions for 2021) there is potential for this, and so much more besides.
Check out this tweet that quotes Ross Stevens, Executive Chairman of NYDIG, speaking about the potential of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network to revolutionize the entire settlement industry and the way that import and export is handled on a global level.
This year, the Lightning Network is breaking records for the amount of nodes hosted, BTC held and DApps built on the network.
With this in mind, the end game for Bitcoin isn’t merely to be accepted as a digital currency which can be conveniently exchanged for fiat currencies at the point of payment; it’s nothing less than becoming the global, preferred settlement currency, and also the super fast, immutable network that those payments are hosted on.
In which case, the question will be:
'why don't you accept Bitcoin?'
This content is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. You should consult a qualified licensed advisor before engaging in any transaction.