Bitcoin is one of the most popular and valuable cryptocurrencies online at the moment. Since its creation in 2009, the online currency has become widely used in a number of key industries, such as online betting and gaming. There are a number of popular casino games which currently use Bitcoin, like Blackjack. The currency has recently hit its highest value to date but it has had a volatile journey to reach that point, falling victim to many scams along the way. It has been widely debated whether Bitcoin will be used across mainstream society in the future. These businesses have already begun accepting Bitcoin as a payment method.
Microsoft began accepting Bitcoin payments in December, 2014. The American technology company allows users to add Bitcoin to their accounts to make payments. They can use the currency to purchase content such as apps, games and videos from the shops online store, both on Windows PCs and their Xboxes. Microsoft have continually been upgrading the services they offer their users and have recently added a long-awaited Game Gifting service to their Xbox store. Aside from a temporary interruption, the company has been accepting Bitcoin payments consistently via the processor BitPay since then and has showed no signs of stopping. It is hoped that in the future, Bitcoin payments will be fully integrated into video games making it possible for transactions to be completely seamless.
The popular blogging platform WordPress, which allows users to make free website for their own use, or pay for their own domain so they have more commercial options, has also began accepting Bitcoin. WordPress allows users to purchase upgrades for their site, such as going ad-free or expanding customisation options, via Bitcoin. The company claimed this was to make their service more universally accessible, particularly for people who don’t have access to traditional payment networks, such as credit or debit cards. Allowing Bitcoin payments also tackles the issue of PayPal blocking payments from over 60 countries around the world, opening the blogging platform to more voices from around the world. At the moment, not all upgrades and services are able to be purchased by Bitcoin, such as domains and themes that are not part of a bundle. WordPress say they are working to make Bitcoin purchases possible for all services on their website within the next few months.
Expedia is one of the most well-known travel agencies. The site offers users the ability to book package deals of flights, accommodation and hire cars or the option to book these elements of their holiday individually. They announced they would begin accepting Bitcoin as a payment method in 2014 and partner with the processer Coinbase to make the purchases possible. They stated this move was to make booking travel easier and more accessible for people across the world. Initially, Bitcoin has only been available to be used for hotel booking payments, as this is where Expedia identified the highest demand. The transactions were transferred back into dollars. However, the option to pay via Bitcoin has been intermittent, with some users complaining that it is not always available. This could be influenced by the unstable and fluctuating value of Bitcoin.
Overstock is an American company which sells labelled items for low prices on their website, such as furniture and home décor items. The website began with the company buying overstocked items but they now aim to purchase high quality items to sell for affordable prices. They consider themselves the first major retailer to accept Bitcoins, a move which the company made in January, 2014. The owners of Overstock described the process of adopting Bitcoin as taking just two weeks of hard work by a dedicated team of designers before it was integrated for use on their website. The company claimed the move has helped them to find a dedicated Bitcoin customer base, which has expanded their audience. The website has also partnered with Coinbase to make Bitcoin purchase possible.
A limited number of Subway stores in the US are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for their products. The popular sandwich franchise has stores in more than 44,000 locations across the globe, so it is hardly surprising they have jumped on board with the latest technology. Subway use Coinbase for transfers, which seems to be a common trend in the use of Bitcoin in American businesses. Coinbase is the most widely available and easily accessible transfer application. As one of the only food franchises to be offering this service, the stores have attracted a number of technology enthusiasts who travel specifically to use the revolutionary service. It is not currently clear exactly how many stores are accepting Bitcoin but it has been said that there are two in Pennsylvania, based in Moscow and Allentown, as well as one in Buenos Aires which began using Bitcoin in 2013. The Buenos Aires store is said to be the first to accept Bitcoin as a payment method in Latin America.
The range of sectors that currently offer Bitcoin payment methods has expanded considerably over the past few years, moving away from being exclusively limited to online gaming and gambling and branching out into the travel and retail industries. Bitcoin payments have even begun to be used for real-world purchases, which is an exciting step forwards and shows the potential for Bitcoin to be used more widely.