What is Bitcoin anyway? In the simplest of definitions, Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not regulated by any central authority such as a bank or government.
Created by “miners” using specialized hardware, Bitcoin promises faster transactions and secure networks, which is why it’s not hard to understand why this digital currency is gaining more interest around the world. It’s especially a hot topic among entrepreneurs, investors and stock traders, and it’s slowly—but surely—gaining traction among different areas including shopping.
A little bit of Bitcoin must-knows
To take advantage of Bitcoin as your currency for shopping, you need to understand a few things about it first:
- A creator with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published the first proof of concept for Bitcoin back in 2008, which was published in a cryptocurrency mailing list a year after. But Bitcoin’s birthday is January 3 when Nakamoto who has now left the project mined the first 50 Bitcoin units.
- On May 22, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz said that he “successfully traded 10,000 Bitcoins for pizza. This was said to be the first transaction involving the digital currency.
- While a lot of people think that you can’t spend Bitcoin, several large-scale businesses actually accept this cryptocurrency including Dish, Expedia and Overstock.com.
- Bitcoin suffered a huge loss in early 2014 when an alleged hacking of Mt. Gox, a Japanese exchange, resulted in $460 million of the currency being stolen. This raised questions about the security of this currency.
- Billionaires have divided opinions over Bitcoin. The world’s most famous investor Warren Buffet said of Bitcoin: “Stay away from it. It’s a mirage, basically.” Mark Cuban and Richard Branson, however, are more optimistic about the cryptocurrency with Cuban investing in a venture capital fund that backs it.
- By November 2017, Bitcoin has already reached a value of $10,000 per unit. With more than 16.7 million units in circulation, Bitcoin’s market capitalization is estimated at $167,156,585,840.
Your definitive guide to shopping with Bitcoin
Now that you have a better understanding of Bitcoin, here are some tips to help you shop with it:
- A little bit of research goes a long way: As with shopping using regular money, it also pays to do your research first before spending your Bitcoin on anything. If you’re going to shop online, visit websites like www.hot5.com for reviews of the best products and services that you can find online. If you’re going to a physical store, find out what businesses accept Bitcoin first to avoid any hassles during checkout.
- You have two options in paying using Bitcoin: Whether you’re buying online or in a real store, you can easily send coins to a business by clicking “send” in your wallet and adding the business’ address and the amount you want to send. You also have the option to use a “QR Code” with your wallet. This is especially useful when you’re using your mobile phone because you can easily scan this code to pay for the products you’re buying.
- You might need to wait for a confirmation of your payment: If you’re shopping in a physical store that accepts Bitcoin, you might need to wait for a few minutes to an hour for a confirmation that your transaction is accepted before you can take out the item. However, you have the option to buy items and ask the store to send it out to you once payment is confirmed so you don’t need to wait. This also goes the same with buying online where you are usually asked to wait between 10 minutes and an hour to get a confirmation. If it takes longer than that, just relax because the network could be very busy and your payment will go through later.
- You can’t cancel payments: Unlike debit and credit cards, you cannot cancel payments in Bitcoin and get the units back later. This is why it’s very important to shop only in stores that are credible and that you have to make sure that you enter the right address before clicking that “send” button. Some merchants actually charge items lower when you’re buying through Bitcoin since they are sure that they won’t lose money from chargeback fraud, which is a great thing to take advantage of.
Of course, if you think that you’re only limited to buying a few products or services because you’re using Bitcoin, you could be in for a surprise.
An overstock is a great place for bargain shopping and Expedia is great for booking flights using Bitcoin. You can also buy products from Amazon using Bitcoin through services like Purse.io where you can list the products you want to buy, pay to them in Bitcoin units and they’ll pay using a credit card for a small premium.
So, are you ready to go shopping with Bitcoin?