Just ten years ago, faith in cryptocurrency becoming a viable everyday reality was so low that people were literally throwing it away.
Now, far from its origins as a mystical concept that many suspected would never catch on, cryptocurrencies are edging closer into real-world transactions.
You can now purchase a car, buy a house, and even pay your dinner bill with Bitcoin.
It’s far from being a widely accepted form of payment, but steam is gathering across the globe, and there are a few emerging ways you can spend your crypto coins in the real world.
Tesla was perhaps the most famous car manufacturer to take the leap with Bitcoin billing in March, but the electric carmaker went back on its decision and suspended vehicles purchases using Bitcoin due to climate change concerns. Recreational vehicle dealer Camping World has recently announced they will start accepting Ethereum (ETH) and a few other cryptocurrencies as forms of payment for RV purchases. Independent car dealers Tomcar and Scuderia Graziani in Woolloomooloo are also accepting Bitcoin as payment (although you’ll need a big budget for the latter, with most of the stock being McLarens, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys).
KFC Canada was way ahead of the hype, introducing a bucket that could only be paid for with crypto in 2018. In France, Just Eat accepts Bitcoin across the nation. And Starbucks was an early accepter, partnering with Bakkt to facilitate in-store payments.
When using cryptocurrency out in the real world as opposed to the digital, transactions are made via a third party ‘futures exchange’ company - usually in the form of a digital asset management app like Bakkt or Spend.
In terms of independent restaurants in Australia, you can visit The Kodiak Club, Giuseppe’s Pizza, and Green Peppercorn to spend your digital money.
US solar company Massachusetts Solar has been accepting Bitcoin for its off-grid panel systems since February this year. In Australia, you can do the same thing with Queensland Solar and Lighting. The futuristic mode of purchasing goes hand in hand with green initiatives and sustainable endeavours.
Curtin University, the biggest university in Western Australia, has been accepting both Bitcoin and Ethereum donations since 2019. But they were a few years behind the pioneering Flinders University, which has been accepting BTC payments for its 12-week entrepreneurial program run by the New Venture Institute since 2014. Worldwide, Dublin City University, the University of British Columbia, and ESMT Berlin also accept crypto payments and donations.
Is it just a gimmick? The cryptocurrency misnomer.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Bitcoin holders have to ask themselves the question: is it worth spending BTC like a fiat currency when its value is so unpredictable? Does it make sense to use it for large purchases when the value could shoot up overnight?
Arguably, Bitcoin is now much more a store of value than a currency, going directly against its original purpose.
We explore this in the second part of our Crypto as a Currency series, here.