We hear quite a lot these days about the idea of using bitcoin in actual payments. Some suggest that opportunities to spend bitcoin are on the rise, and that it is indeed becoming a major form of currency around the world. Others counter that spending opportunities are still few and far between, and may not be particularly meaningful to the average consumer anytime soon.
The truth is that we’ve reached a point at which you can more or less make what you want of bitcoin payments. If you want to seek out and highlight opportunities for spending, you can; if you’d prefer not to buy into the idea of bitcoin as useful money, you’re certainly not alone. So, rather than picking one narrative or the other, we decided to look not at the future of bitcoin payments. Without any argument as to whether bitcoin will be a mainstream currency or not, the following are some of the ways in which bitcoin may evolve as money.
Select Stores Will Continue to Accept Bitcoin
We have looked at ‘Where You Can Actually Use Bitcoin to Buy Stuff’ before, and in doing so highlighted some of the companies that have become known for embracing cryptocurrencies. These include Shopify, Subway, and Tesla, to name a few. We expect that in this space, bitcoin spending will more or less stay where it is now. A handful of major stores have been accepting it long enough for us to know that they’re not launching any major domino effect. McDonald’s isn’t accepting bitcoin just because Subway chose to, and so on. However, it’s also a good bet that some major stores will continue to dabble in cryptocurrency moving forward.
Gift Cards & Debit Cards Will Be Popular Options
In the aforementioned article we made note of gift cards that can be purchased with bitcoin (at sites like Gyft). These will continue to be used, and give people an indirect way of using bitcoin to fund purchases. The rising trend of bitcoin debit cards will likely be even more significant though.
Earlier this year, payment giant Visa partnered with Coinbase to allow the latter to issue bitcoin debit cards. This combination of traditional payment methods with cryptocurrency has brought abut a way for people to pay with bitcoin just about wherever they’d like. This system appears to work, which means bitcoin debit cards aren’t going anywhere (and will likely become more popular as word gets out about them).
Gaming Will Make Heavy Use of Bitcoin
Gaming has always been an interesting industry to consider with regard to cryptocurrency. It’s essentially a vast, international enterprise in which people are using different payment methods, and value privacy and security.
This more or less sounds like the perfect environment for crypto adoption, which is why we expect to see more of it. Already there are some gaming sites and platforms that accept bitcoin directly. However, there are also systems that enable other gaming companies to get more flexible about finances.
Discussions on gaming payments on FIS Global cover this idea, highlighting modern processors that can handle a “vast network of alternative payment types” and “process any payments” customers want to make. These processors are basically opening gaming platforms up to their digital, international audiences more effectively — and that process should include more bitcoin activity.
Bitcoin Will Be Useful in (Some) Travel
Bitcoin spending was linked to travel fairly early on, largely as a result of a few travel booking companies (including Expedia) getting on board early. Some of those companies have since backed off, but we imagine bitcoin remaining relevant in travel in a different way.
Specifically, it could become the preferred (and easiest) currency option at certain destinations. A Medium article made note of countries that are adopting bitcoin more rapidly and heavily than others, including places like Singapore, Switzerland, and Argentina. It may well be that travellers around the world find that bitcoin is worth acquiring to spend at certain destinations like these.
Whether or not bitcoin truly becomes a major, useful currency is a debate no one can win just yet. But these are some logical ideas as to where bitcoin spending may go next.