Hi, I’m Adil Wali. I became a Microsoft certified professional at age 14 and started my first web development company. That led to a career as a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and startup investor. I got my first “real job” at 33, and I’m now a FinTech executive with a passion for the markets.
Like many people, you might think of cryptocurrency in terms of a purely virtual, digital commodity. However, you may be surprised to find out that there are more and more major companies willing, even eager, to deal in digital currencies. Here are some of the more famous brands, and how they are handling cryptocurrencies today. This is especially heartening for us at Merit because we make this kind of adoption even easier.
Microsoft has had quite a bumpy ride with cryptocurrency. They were accepting digital currency as early as winter 2014, but then changed their minds. Then, they almost immediately changed back to accepting digital currency, presumably due to demand. Now it’s possible to purchase videos, apps and even entire games from the Windows and Xbox stores, all with cryptocurrency. Lifewire describes the service as reliable and streamlined, and according to UK newspaper The Telegraph, the news that Microsoft had adopted digital currency increased the overall value of some currencies and encouraged other big brands to get on board.
One of the major U.S. telecom companies, Dish Network has chosen to accept bitcoin payments using Coinbase as their payment processor. Once it did, it became the biggest company to accept digital currency as of 2014. More than 14 million subscribers can now pay for streaming their favourite shows with cryptocurrency. It led to an enthusiastic feedback from bitcoin users.
Allentown, PA, is the home of the first ever Subway outlet in the United States to accept digital currency as a valid form of payment. Coindesk hosts a brilliant blog post detailing one customer’s experience buying their sandwiches with cryptocurrency. The whole transaction took place on an in-store tablet, and it took no longer than a credit card transaction. The customer, a self-professed cryptocurrency geek, marveled at the ease of the transaction and was so impressed they even went back for cookies.
Buying sandwiches and cookies with cryptocurrency is just the tip of a very tasty iceberg. PizzaForCoins allows you to purchase your dinner from three major pizza outlets, with more than 45 different digital currencies. There’s a small surcharge for the service, which is explained on the homepage, but all in all this site gives you a delicious way to spend your digital money.
Expedia is online travel agent that joined the digital currency revolution in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. They allow customers to purchase hotel bookings that, although priced in dollars, can be paid for with digital currency. Expedia uses Coinbase as a digital payment processor, and Michael Gulmann, the project manager from Expedia, describes it as being “similar to how we accept other forms of currency,” a reassuring statement for anyone still uncertain about the differences between mainstream money and cryptocurrency.
Travel in general is good for cryptocurrency payments, as it could give you a lot of choice. Some travel agencies accepting bitcoin payments are Cheapair.com and Peach Airlines, Japan’s number one budget airlines. One of the more exciting examples is Brisbane Airport in Australia which became the world’s first crypto-friendly airport. All the merchants and airport terminals now accept various cryptocurrencies as well as fiat money. The representative from BAC explained that it is important for the company to give passengers choice when traveling to the airport.
One Shot Hotels, Spanish hotel chain, started accepting payments in Bitcoin in 2014. One of their hotels in Madrid has Bitcoin ATM installed as well. Solís Tello, CEO, said he was mostly influenced by speaking to some bitcoiners in Madrid and seeing companies like Dell, Expedia and Wikipedia integrate bitcoin payments. This is a good example of gradual cryptocurrency adoption due to previous success stories. While technical curiosity was the biggest motivation to enable this payment method, it led to huge media attention and enabled similar early adopters to pay for their hotel stay, not to mention the usual credit card fees were gone.
Widely accepted as the first major online retailer to accept digital currency, Overstock.com now accepts most major cryptocurrencies; we can only presume this will keep on increasing. The list of things you can buy for bitcoin steadily expands over time: from Newegg’s computer hardware to Namecheap’s domain names, RE/MAX London’s rental services and MIT Coop Store’s books. Movietickets.com, one of the most mainstream merchants to begin accepting bitcoin payments, allowed cryptocurrency enthusiasts buying movie tickets to select theatres across the US. Movietickets’ CEO, Joel Cohen, remarked on how well it was embraced and how this decision was beneficial for attracting new audiences.
However, if you want to use your cryptocurrency assets to buy something from major businesses, gift card services can help you with that. Gyft and eGifter, two of the most prominent digital gift cards platforms, accept bitcoin. There’s even a brief guide on using bitcoin at Gyft’s website, which is beneficial for cryptocurrency’s adoption as a whole. This way you can indirectly pay for many goods and services from top brands.
Shopify is a global online shopping interface that allows individuals or businesses to set up their own digital shop window online, in a similar vein to eBay. In late 2013, Brian Alkerton, a Shopify Guru, announced that store owners would now be able to give their customers the option to pay for goods with digital currency. This is highly significant, since it shows that it’s not only massive brands taking the leap to cryptocurrency, but smaller, independent suppliers too.
Providing a secure, fast and convenient payment option for smaller, independent businesses is where cryptocurrency really can shine. Many Etsy sellers happily accept Bitcoin although the platform currently doesn’t support cryptocurrency payments. That could very well change in the future as popular demand continues to grow and e-commerce competitors explore new technical options.
One cannot underestimate the importance of payment infrastructure. Many major payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe and Square now let merchants accept cryptocurrency. PayPal’s senior director of corporate strategy, Scott Ellison praises bitcoin and blockchain technology advantages. Many users start looking into new technologies when major businesses promote cryptocurrency as an exciting opportunity for changing the financial world.
With digital currency on the rise, it’s great news for consumers and retailers alike that Merit is aiming to be the world’s easiest to use currency. Thanks to a great incentive model that allows retailers to mine the currency simply by accepting it, you should soon see Merit as an option available at your favorite stores and online services very soon!