Updated June 2019.
Editor’s Note: we use the word “bitcoin” throughout this article to collectively refer to all legitimate, recognized cryptocurrencies.
Who Accepts Bitcoin?
You may have noticed that cryptocurrency online purchases are becoming increasingly available on mainstream e-commerce sites including Amazon, Overstock, Expedia, PayPal, Etsy and many others. In parallel, the first few intrepid bricks and mortar merchants are beginning to accept in-person cryptocurrency payments in the course of their daily commerce. Who are they?
To get you started, here is a quick orientation of the marketplace as it stands today.
> Bricks and Mortar Businesses
Coinmap.org (https://coinmap.org ) is by far the best interactive world map showing bricks and mortar businesses that accept cryptocurrency. Retailers, restaurants, ATMs, and professional service businesses are all shown with icons on the map which you can click on for further details including clickable links to the business phone number, website, et cetera. The look and feel are similar to Google Maps, and the site loads well on both desktop computers and handheld devices alike. It’s also easy for businesses to both edit and maintain their listings, so info is usually up-to-date, in my experience.
[Updated June 2019] BitPay’s Directory is currently one of the best resources for where you can spend bitcoin.
> Real Estate, Gold, Airline Travel
The Crypto Realty Group, a high-end residential real estate brokerage serving southern California, features multi-million dollar listings that can be optionally purchased with cryptocurrency.
A recent Fortune Magazine article showcases homes around the US entitled “You Can Buy Houses With Bitcoin Now- Here’s How Much It Would Take”.
AnthemGold, run by experienced gold merchant Anthem Blanchard, sells gold and silver bullion in exchange for cryptocurrency. Additionally, their quality control and delivery system is powered by first-of-its-kind blockchain technology.
JM Bullion, also a reputable online gold and silver retailer, sells bullion to customers and offers a 3% discount when paying with bitcoin or bitcoin cash payments, up to a max of USD $250,000.
When will Cryptocurrency Payments Become Mainstream?
The myriad advantages to merchants of accepting cryptocurrency are becoming clear, as we discuss in another blog post, and also as evidenced by Square’s recent survey of its merchants indicating that 60% would accept cryptocurrency if given the option. Consumers are not having any trouble finding their way to acquiring cryptocurrency and associated wallet apps for their smartphones. But some lingering regulatory and tax questions combined with currently limited options for point-of-sale hardware and software are causing many merchants to delay implementation.
Those in the industry realize that we are nearing the tipping point where cryptocurrency payments will begin becoming mainstream. Some remaining regulatory and tax questions related to accepting such payments are being resolved, and the first scalable software tools are in beta testing and will be released later in 2018.
Specifically, the following organizations and factors will soon enable mainstream cryptocurrency payment processing:
> Lightning Network (https://lightning.network) – An open source protocol written by a consortium of software developers, used for instantaneous conveyance of cryptocurrencies for payments. In short, this is seamlessly accomplished by the software by first establishing a pre-funded ‘payment channel’ between the consumer and merchant, and then completing any number of subsequent transactions on that channel. Numerous reputable software companies are developing C2B and B2B cryptocurrency wallets to operate using this protocol.
> Coinbase Commerce, with Shopify integration (https://commerce.coinbase.com) – Coinbase, the large scale online cryptocurrency exchange is now offering this simple tool for merchants to accept online payments. In general, its a simple widget you can integrate into your e-commerce website and/or shopping cart software.
> Bitpay (https://bitpay.com) – Bitpay, a world class cryptocurrency payments and liquidity provider is an early leader in providing cryptocurrency payment solutions. In addition to online cryptocurrency payments processing, they also offer a point-of-sale application called Checkout for bricks and mortar merchants to accept crypto payments with one click.
> Square (https://squareup.com) – Square, a large scale credit card merchant payment processor with the popular white point-of-sale “square” terminal, is planning on integrating cryptocurrency payments in the near future. Its CEO, Jack Dorsey, recently made an equity investment in Lightning Labs, a pre-eminent developer of Lightning Network payment software.
Consumers are beginning to adopt, accumulate and use bitcoin and merchants are increasingly interested in accepting it. There is a thriving cryptocurrency software development community wherein new innovative applications are being developed, tested, refined and released everyday. With each passing month, we gain clarity as to the specifics of how cryptocurrency is going to be integrated into daily commerce. If you are interested in learning more, ….