In a 1999 interview, Professor Milton Friedman, an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy, said the Internet would be a major force for reducing the role of government.
The one thing that was missing but would soon be developed, said Friedman, was a reliable e-cash. Nearly 10 years after the introduction of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency continues to gain acceptance as a form of payment.
As bitcoin’s price rises, the media pays more attention to it, making more people aware of its use as both an investment and a convenient way to pay for goods and services. The convenience of receiving payments within seconds, with minimal transaction fees, provides significant benefits to a business. More retailers, both physical and online, are accepting bitcoin as a form of payment from their customers.
Following is a review of top retailers that accept bitcoin.
Since 2013, Virgin Galactic, a commercial space flight venture owned by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson that includes companies such as Virgin Mobile and Virgin Airline, has accepted bitcoin for purchases.
Over the last three years, Branson, a longtime bitcoin advocate, has hosted the “Blockchain Summit” on his private Necker Island.
Overstock, an online retailer offering big-ticket items at lower prices, was the first online retailer to accept Bitcoins starting January 2014. Overstock partnered with Coinbase to allow customers to pay with bitcoin for all their purchases, from TV sets and laptops to pillows. The website has a “pay with bitcoin” option to complete purchases.
In 2016, Overstock began trading its stock on its private blockchain, tZERO.
In September of 2017, Overstock subsidiary tZERO announced a joint venture with Argon Group and RenGen LLC to launch the first ICO exchange that complies with SEC and FINRA regulations.
TigerDirect, an online electronics retailer, became the second online retailer after Overstock to report more than $1 million in bitcoin sales in 2014. TigerDirect began accepting bitcoin payments in January of 2014, using BitPay as its payments provider.
The prominent satellite television company Dish Network began accepting bitcoin payments in 2014 after some of its employees began investing in it. Dish Network used the Coinbase API to process bitcoin payments.
Shortly after Dish Network, Expedia teamed up with Coinbase in implementing the world’s largest travel booking agency found online. Like Dish Network, Expedia’s decision to accept bitcoin was based in part by customer requests.
Expedia was not the first travel website to accept bitcoin. CheapAir.cm began allowing users to book hotels using bitcoin in 2013.
Since mid 2014, users have been able to make hotel bookings using the Expedia bitcoin payment option. The company currently accepts bitcoins only for hotel bookings, but it is expected to expand to include flight bookings and other activities.
Newegg, an online retailer, began accepting bitcoin in 2014. Like competitor TigerDirect, Newegg uses payment processor BitPay to immediately settle bitcoin payments into fiat.
Newegg offered 10% off to users paying in bitcoin for a week in July 2014. The company also celebrated “Bitcoin Black Friday” with bitcoin only deals to highlight bitcoin’s superiority as an exchange medium.
Microsoft added a feature to allow customers to use bitcoin to add money to a Microsoft account in December of 2014, using BitPay as its payment processor.
Microsoft users can use bitcoin to purchase games, movies and apps in the Windows and Xbox stores, as well as the Microsoft online stores.
eGifter, a gift card mobile app, allows users to buy gift cards for different places, such as Amazon, Sephora, Home Depot and Kohls. eGifter works with Coinbase as its bitcoin partner. Bitcoins are accepted for purchasing gift cards for places that do not directly accept bitcoin.
Gyft, an online gift card retailer, allows customers to spend their bitcoins on gift cards at many major retailers. Whether it be iTunes for music, Starbucks for coffee, Target for groceries or Amazon for miscellaneous products.
The platform also allows customers to store their gift cards on their phone rather than in their purse or wallet. When bitcoin users buy gift cards through Gyft, they receive three percent points back onto their account that can be redeemed for rewards.
Zynga, a leader in the monetization of electronic gaming, began testing bitcoin with some of its games in 2014. Bitcoin enables frictionless microtransactions suited to such business models.
For online gamers, Zynga partnered with BitPay for bitcoin payments. Players can use bitcoin for in-app purchases.
While Starbucks cashiers do not accept bitcoin, there are a few ways to pay for purchases with bitcoin.
Since 2015, the Foldapp has allowed customers to use bitcoin to get a 20 percent discount using the app to pay for purchases at many Starbucks stores.
In 2016, Seattle-based bitcoin wallet iPayYou announced the launch of Bitcoin Direct to Starbucks, giving coffee lovers a new and easy way to pay with bitcoin. Users of iPayYou simply transfer bitcoin from their wallet to their Starbucks mobile app.
Subway franchises in Buenos Aires recently accept bitcoin for payments at the restaurants for their “Eat Fresh” products.
AutoPartsWay, a New York, N.Y.-based auto parts ecommerce retailer serving the U.S. and Canada, became the first major auto parts online retailer to accept payment in bitcoin in 2016. The company offers a large selection of exterior, interior, engine, AC, brakes and other parts for vehicles.
The use of bitcoin is on the rise due to numerous benefits, such as security, speed, low transaction fees, ease of storage and as a globally accepted means of payment.
Featured image from Shutterstock.