What you Can Buy with Cryptocurrency
To many people, cryptocurrency might only seem like a name that they hear in the news. If they do know about it, it might be that they only understand it as a type of investment. After all, the soaring rises and large drops in value that the digital coins sometimes undergo make for pretty good headlines.
While cryptocurrency, whether you're referring to Bitcoin or one of the fast-rising alternative coins, definitely holds value as an investment vehicle, there is far more to it than that. As a matter of fact, cryptocurrency was first devised as an alternative to the system of buying and selling goods and services that most of us know. And as an alternative, it actually offers a lot of benefits over the traditional ways of money changing hands.
There also might be many people who don't realize that cryptocurrency can be used as legal tender to acquire a wide variety of goods and services. The list of those goods and services that can be bought with the digital tokens is always growing and is somewhat malleable. What you'll find out is that you can actually do a lot more with your cryptocurrency than just keeping it in your digital wallet and waiting for it to grow.
How to Purchase Items with Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency has gained in popularity with adopters who understand that it makes for a smoother, swifter experience than dealing with normal online payments. The process of money changing hands takes places practically in an instant, and there are only small fees associated with most payments. In addition, the identity of the person paying, along with the bulk of their financial information, remains private, even from the party receiving money.
Getting started with cryptocurrency payments is relatively easy. All you really need is a digital wallet to store your coins. This can either be a piece of hardware or even something that you download on your internet-capable device of choice.
WWhen you go to pay for something using cryptocurrency, you can usually do so by inputting a key into the website where you are purchasing. From there, you're pretty much home free, with as little hassle as possible.
Changing Value of Cryptocurrency
One of the things that you do have to take into account when using cryptocurrency is that it tends to change in value in a much different fashion than traditional currencies. When you pay with dollars, pounds, or whatever the currency of the country in question is, you can generally be assured that the actual value, compared to other currencies, will be very close to what it was when you spent it for a long time span afterwards.
Cryptocurrency acts more like a stock than a currency when it comes to value, and a very volatile stock at that. You might pay for something with $1,000 worth of Bitcoin, only to have the coins change in value to the point where that same amount would be worth $1,100 or $900 a day or two later. It adds a bit of risk into the equation when buying with the coins or receiving payment in them.
Which Coins to Use
As a rule, your best bet if you want to use cryptocurrency as an actual replacement for fiat money is Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first of the cryptocurrencies and still commands the most attention in the market by a wide margin. It is also the coin that is, by far and away, the one that is the most widely accepted by vendors all over the world.
There are many other alternative coins that can also be used as payment for items, but the scope of places you might be able to use them is limited. For example, Ether, the native coin of the Ethereum network, generally stands as the second-most-valuable coin behind Bitcoin in the cryptocurrency market. But it doesn't approach Bitcoin in terms of the number of outlets that are willing and capable of using it as payment.
IIf you are going to stray from Bitcoin and want to use your crypto coins in a monetary fashion, your best bet would be the coins that mimic Bitcoin's main purpose. Coins like Dash or Litecoin are structured specifically to act as payment systems. They also will cost you less in terms of transaction fees, which, in terms of Bitcoin, can make smaller purchases less cost-effective.
Your Buying Options
Again, it is important to note that the list of vendors who are available to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payments isn't static and can change by the day. But here are some of the better options for consumers who want to spend their digital tender instead of holding it. (For the most part, the sites and vendors listed accept Bitcoin exclusively among cryptocurrencies unless otherwise noted.)
Cryptocurrency usually does better with big-ticket items, since many people don't like the idea of exposing their coins for small expenditures and then losing out should the coins rise in value. Travel represents a big-ticket item that can indeed be paid for with cryptocurrency if you can find the right site.
Expedia and CheapAir will oblige. Expedia, which is a kind of all-in-one travel site, for now only allows digital payments for hotel bookings. On the other hand, CheapAir, which specializes in finding the most affordable airfare for their customers, will accept cryptocurrency as part of your payment options to book your next flight.
Perhaps the vendor that is most easily recognized among those that are extremely friendly to cryptocurrency is Overstock. The site, which made its name selling bargain home décor but also offers a wide variety of goods to its customers, has made an effort to embrace cryptocurrency to a significant degree. In fact, they have developed their own blockchain technology in order to get into the cryptocurrency coin game themselves. (Blockchain is the technology breakthrough that drives most cryptocurrency projects.)
You might also be surprised to know that one of the biggest names in the tech world offers customers the chance to pay for certain items with cryptocurrency. In the Microsoft store, you can buy games and movies to download with the coins. As a matter of fact, gaming, as a whole, is one of the bigger sectors of industry that attempts to placate those wanting to pay with cryptocurrency.
There aren't too many of the most impactful online retailers that will let you use cryptocurrency. But if you really want to work your way into that world with cryptocurrency coins, you can do so indirectly via gift cards. You can simply use the crypto to buy the gift card, which can then be used to purchase items at some of the big-name sites in question.
Using these sites will help you gain crypto-backed exposure to gigantic brands like Target, Amazon, and many of the other biggest names in the online retail realm. Services like eGifter and Gyft can convert your cryptocurrency into gift cards which you, or your intended recipient, can use at a plethora of big-name online sellers.
When you're hungry for something, and you'd prefer to spend your crypto coins on the items you desire, your options are still a bit limited. That's because there are very few restaurants that have the capability to accept crypto coins on site.
But PizzaForCoins is, as the name suggests, your one-stop shop for a pizza fix bankrolled by cryptocurrency. The site will find the nearest cooperating pizza delivery service in your area and do the work of transferring the coins into fiat money since these sites won't likely accept your digital coins directly.
When you are buying real estate, whether it's a new home, office space, or just a parcel of land, you generally have to go through an army of intermediaries to finish the sale. These intermediaries are the very entities which cryptocurrency is meant to wipe away. As a result, many realtors, sensing the danger of becoming obsolete, are embracing cryptocurrency initiatives.
Your best bet is to search your area for any chance that you can use cryptocurrency if you are indeed in the market for some sort of real estate transaction. There have already been examples of houses being purchased using nothing but Bitcoin, so it isn't entirely out of the question. This is a sector where cryptocurrency has the opportunity to make a large dent in the coming months and years, so you should keep your ear to the ground to see if there are any such chances in your market of choice.
There are sites springing up in many corners of the internet which are devoted to helping people spend their cryptocurrency for philanthropic purposes. Many people who enjoyed the rising prices of cryptocurrency coins after being among the first to buy them have the urge to spread the wealth. The charity sites can help connect the crypto donors with the charities in need of their funds.
We mentioned earlier that Ether wasn't really usable in too many situations to pay for items - not like Bitcoin, at any rate. But one area where Ether can be used liberally is the Ethereum network. And that is more of a boost than you might expect.
Ethereum is the home to decentralized applications, or dApps, that are similar to what you might find in the app store on your phone, tablet, or computer. Ether is the best way to pay for these dApps. As a matter of fact, having Ether is the best way to maneuver about the Ethereum network if you choose to engage it in any way.
In addition, using Ether and Bitcoin is the best way that you can invest in an initial coin offering, which is an excellent way to get involved in a new cryptocurrency project. An initial coin offering, or ICO, is when the creators of a new crypto coin reach out to investors for funding. You can usually pay by Bitcoin and Ether, and in return, you can get a certain amount of the new coin.
The advantage of an ICO for an investor is that you have the opportunity to buy into a coin before it gains too much attention and is still affordable. If that coin rises in value over time, you can conceivably make an excellent profit from it. Some coins also offer special benefits to their holders, depending on the nature of the project.
You should always take a look for a cryptocurrency banner on the payment page of whatever site you might be frequenting. That's because you might be surprised at the wide variety of companies and providers that include the option for crypto payments.
For example, OKCupid, one of the world's largest online dating sites, offers services that can be purchased with crypto. So does Dish Network, one of the major providers of satellite television. And there is an ever-expanding group of gambling websites which gladly accept and even encourage cryptocurrency payments.
Small Businesses and Cryptocurrency
For the most part, the businesses that we have singled out to this point possess outreach on a national and even international level. Yet in actuality, small businesses are more likely than their bigger counterparts to get involved in the cryptocurrency game at the moment. There are a number of reasons that this is the case.
Cryptocurrencies generally allow smaller businesses to accept payment at a much more cost-effective level, especially considering the high fees that credit card companies charge them to process payments. In addition, cryptocurrency will enter their accounts much faster, allowing their cash flow to churn much more efficiently. Finally, some small businesses choose cryptocurrency as a way to stand out from their competitors and attract a niche audience.
MMost of these small businesses will likely to go out of their way to publicize their cryptocurrency acceptance policies. Make sure to check out their websites or their social media accounts, and you'll likely find the notifications about which coins, if any, they accept.
The above businesses and organizations are just a small smattering of those that allow customers to make payments using cryptocurrency. If you are holding onto the coins solely as an investment, you should consider doing some spending and taking advantage of this growing movement. You can expect the list to grow even more as more coins start to work their way through the economy at large.