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You probably hear a lot about Bitcoin, maybe you own some or know people who own the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, but what can you do with it? For some people, cryptocurrency is treated like stocks. You exchange your money for a crypto coin and cash out when it rockets in value. For others, cryptocurrency represents something entirely different: a new digital age for finance.
There is almost no way to trade or exchange value, whether that’s currency or data, without using a middleman in the modern world. If you want to send money to a friend, first you have to send it through your bank, who will send it to their bank, who will send it to them. This works the same way for social networking too, if you want to message your friend, you have to put the data through Facebook for example, who will send it to them.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology that underpins it are decentralized, cutting out the need for a middleman. For crypto enthusiasts, cryptocurrency and blockchain represent a new way of doing things that will be the norm in the future; a world where we take control and cut off the institutions at their knees.
Those who are hopeful that crypto will eventually replace our traditional currency systems are showing their support by using Bitcoin wherever possible. Let us take a look at Bitcoin’s uses in the real world.
Microsoft – Users can buy content from the Xbox or Windows store with Bitcoin. In an interview with Bloomberg, Bill Gates said:
“Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”
Subway – In select stores users can buy sandwiches using Bitcoin. This has only been available at certain stores due to it being a franchise decision rather than a corporate one. The first store to accept Bitcoin as payment was a store in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
KFC Canada – In January 2018 KFC Canada brought out the “Bitcoin Bucket” where users could pay for the bucket online using Bitpay. The Bucket is still on KFC Canada’s website but is sold out and it isn’t clear if they will be starting it back up again. Still, it’s a pretty major step for a fast food change to allow for payment in crypto. In a tweet KFC Canada said:
“If Satoshi reveals his true identity, his bucket is on us.”
The tweet is referring to Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous and mysterious Bitcoin inventor who fell out of existence in 2011.
Overstock – Overstock has been one of the major players in accepting Bitcoin payments, something they have been doing for a number of years. In 2017 Overstock reported that they were making $5 million a year in Bitcoin payments. Overstock has been supportive of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology for some time now, with CEO Patrick Byrne announcing he would sell the retail arm of the company to focus on blockchain in 2019, and that the company would begin paying taxes in Bitcoin.
CheapAir – CheapAir has been accepting Bitcoin payments for hotel and flight bookings since 2013. In April 2018 they also announced that they will be accepting additional digital currencies such as Dash, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. Jeff Klee, CheapAir CEO said:
“It has been a thrill to meet so many extremely smart, incredibly passionate members of the Bitcoin community and we appreciate to no end the support and loyalty that the group has shown us.”
Playboy TV – In 2018 Playboy TV announced they will be offering cryptocurrency payments for their adult content. Playboy’s Chief Operations Officer, Reena Patel, said:
“As the popularity of alternative payment methods continues to grow around the world, along with the reach Playboy’s digital platforms, we felt it was important to give our 100 million monthly consumers increased payment flexibility.”
Dish Network – Customers can use Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash as payment for monthly subscriptions in addition to pay-per-view movies and events. Dish COO John Swieringa said:
“We’ve added Bitcoin Cash just as we chose to accept Bitcoin to serve customers who have adopted a new way of doing business.”
Chess.com – This one is half true. Chess.com used to accept Bitcoin payment for its memberships but ran into problems. CEO Erik said:
“As for why we stopped originally – it is because Coinbase deprecated their payment links, and volumes had shrunken a lot anyway after BTC value correction. Anyway, I remain a hopeful believer.”
As of 2019, Chess.com now accepts Bitcoin Cash as payment.
OkCupid – The dating site has an interesting history with Bitcoin. They first allowed Bitcoin payments for their paid memberships which allow for higher levels of customization, back in 2013. However, this was removed sometime in 2016 and allowed again in 2018. Christian Rudder, OkCupid co-founder and general manager, said:
“Bitcoin users are exactly the early adopters who are using OkCupid…we’re embracing their innovative spirit and inviting them to subscribe to OkCupid.“
Virgin Galactic – In 2013 founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, announced that Bitcoin payments were available. Branson has been a big supporter of cryptocurrencies from the beginning and this is something he continues to show support for as he develops plans for consumer space travel. Branson said:
“Consumers are being offered much greater control and freedom with their money and more of them have chosen Blockchain’s safe and easy-to-use wallet to hold their Bitcoins than any other.”
Go to University
Some universities are now accepting tuition payment in the form of Bitcoin! The crypto-friendly Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland now accepts Bitcoin payment. The university stated:
“Those most likely to avail themselves of this opportunity will either be already familiar with the concept of financial services and blockchain or interested in pursuing continuing and executive education opportunities in this subject area.”
In December 2016 Berlin’s Business School ESMT became the first German University to accept cryptocurrencies as payment.
CFO of ESMT Georg Garlichs said:
“Integrating bitcoin as a routine method of payment is a logical consequence of digitalization. Especially for international transactions from countries without a well-functioning banking system, the digital currency offers great advantages through the immediate, practically free-of-charge transfer. This makes bitcoins attractive to us as a means of accepted payment.”
As of March 2019, there are 4,387 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide, an increase of 1,935 ATMs since March 2018. The number of Bitcoin ATMs is rocketing with more and more popping up all the time. The US has the highest number of Bitcoin ATMs per country. In August 2018 there were 3,461 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide, 2,026 of these were in the United States, 535 in Canada, 168 in the United Kingdom and 155 in Austria. Over 71% of Bitcoin ATMs were located in North America.
So, if you want to regularly and easily use a Bitcoin ATM you should live in the US or Canada, at least until the rest of the world catches up. As time progresses we can expect that the number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide will continue to rise.