Welcome to the wild world of cryptocurrency!
After all, you’ve gone to all the (very little) trouble of (quickly and easily) registering an account, and you’ve spent (an affordable amount of) money. Now you own your first few bitcoins.
What can you do with them?
For some people it pretty much ends there. Now it’s time to hopefully watch the money come in or get to day trading. But other people would like to put the “coin” back in “Bitcoin.” If you haven’t bought your tokens as an investment, the odds are you’d now like to know what to spend them on.
As a digital currency, Bitcoin is accepted online first and foremost.
Culture does double duty here. The people most likely to get excited about cryptocurrencies are more likely to do their business over the internet than across a counter. As Coindesk pointed out in a blog post earlier this year, this includes Microsoft’s app stores, numerous musicians, data and storage providers, and electronics retailers.
While many of the largest online retailers have yet to accept Bitcoin in payment, that may be about to change. Rumors continue to swirl about whether Amazon is gearing up to make the jump. If so, the shopping giant could change cryptocurrency’s profile virtually overnight.
Next up, consider travel.
Bitcoin has started to make serious inroads around the world, especially in expat-heavy destinations such as Thailand and Cambodia. Part of the reason for this is simple value. Many digital nomads are reluctant to keep their money in questionable currencies like the Khmer riel, looking instead for something with a bit more substance.
They’ve started to pull both local vendors and the travel industry at large with them.
Airlines and online travel agencies have started jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon. From small airlines like airBaltic to the major travel companies like Expedia and Virgin, you can rack up a lot of frequent flier miles from the comfort of your Xcoins wallet.
It's never too tacky to give the gift of cash, and it’s fairly easy with Bitcoin.
A wide variety of companies let you buy gift cards with bitcoins. Whether as a stocking stuffer, or an easy way to enable business with third party retailers, this can be a good way to turn your tokens into pocket money.
This is particularly useful for consumers who want to spend their tokens offline at legacy retailers such as department stores, restaurants and boutiques.
On the one hand Zynga, one of the Internet’s biggest game companies, has recently started taking Bitcoin for its pay-to-play games. If you’d like a quick way to move your cows around Farmville, crypto’s got you covered.
Then again Zynga's games are usually about as fun as listening to that one hand clapping. The better stuff is found on the gaming giant Steam. Valve's flagship product and the single largest computer game vendor in America, Steam did accept Bitcoin for a time. Unfortunately during last winter’s roller coaster ride in the cryptocurrency market the company decided to drop its support for cryptocurrency. Hopefully this moratorium is short-lived, because 21st Century entertainment and next generation currency are a natural fit.
It’s not just technology and internet retail that accepts Bitcoin. Lawyers, fast food, accountants… they’ve all started taking payment from the ether.
In fact, you can check out a global map here. Zoom in to see who's started taking Bitcoin in your neighborhood. For all the technology involved with buying your tokens quickly and safely online, it may be surprisingly easy to spend them around the corner.
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