Cryptocurrency has been around for some time now, and while it’s not the easiest subject to get your head around, it certainly provides a fascinating glimpse into what the future of retail, money and business might look.
Bitcoin is the most popular form of cryptocurrency, with the number of global merchants accepting it growing steadily over the best part of a decade.
Before we delve any deeper, let’s outline exact what Bitcoin is…
Bitcoin is a digital currency, which has a decentralised peer-to-peer payment network powered by its users with no central authority or middleman.
The cryptocurrency was created by developer Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2009, and its protocol and software are both published openly so any developer around the world can review the code or make their own modified version.
Bitcoin payments are made through a wallet application, either on a computer, tablet or smartphone, by entering the recipient’s Bitcoin address and payment amount.
You can buy Bitcoins using real money, and addresses can be obtained by scanning QR codes or using NFC technology.
It is generally thought to be easier to make a Bitcoin payment than debit or credit card payments as they can be received without a merchant account.
One of the reasons Bitcoin has been held back over the years is the fact that user anonymity has attracted illegal activities. However, as more countries around the world officially accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s gaining much better reputation and many are discovering its benefits.
In fact, a 2017 report from Juniper Research estimated that cryptocurrency transactions would surpass the $1 trillion mark – that’s more than 15 times the level in 2016.
Since the start of 2017, Bitcoin prices have risen from around $1,000 to more than $4,000.
There are a number of benefits for retailers accepting Bitcoin. Generally, there are lower transaction fees compared to credit and debit card purchases, meaning smaller merchants will really notice the difference. Also, because customers can pay without divulging any personal information (in most circumstances), shoppers will be at less risk from potential identity theft.
As well as the ability to send and receive money instantly, anywhere in the world, without bank holidays or imposed limit holdups, transactions are irreversible and final, meaning no chargebacks and no returns.
Bitcoin also gives merchants the ability to easily expand into any markets they wish without worrying about fraud rates, the availability of credit cards, and any issues accepting international payments.
While all this sounds great, it is worth remembering that Bitcoin is an ongoing development, meaning there are still many changes and improvements that can be made, as well as some potential flaws still to be uncovered.
And it’s worth noting that due to the number of Bitcoins in circulation and the amount of businesses using them still relatively small compared to traditional currencies, minor movements in the market can significantly affect the price.
So you’re probably wondering who is actually accepting Bitcoin.
Well, in terms of major retailers and businesses, the likes of Expedia, WordPress, Subway, Microsoft, Reddit, OkCupid, Etsy, Gap, GameStop, JC Penny, CEX, Rakutan and T-Mobile Poland are just a selection of those already on the Bitcoin train.
In 2017, it was announced that Bitcoin had officially become a method of payment in Japan. With two major Japanese retailers now accepting the currency, the result is Bitcoin users now having a whopping 260,000 stores throughout Japan to shop in.
In terms of the MI, audio and music industries, there are a fair few UK businesses either accepting Bitcoin, or actually based around the cryptocurrency itself. These include the Berwyn Music School, record label and music retailer Fine Balance Recordings, guitar teacher Guitar Theory Revolution, digital music distributor Horus Music, online mixing and mastering service Online-mixing.com, music production and distribution business Sound-Hub Studios, and Learn Guitar for Bitcoin – the first exclusively Bitcoin guitar-teaching service.
As Bitcoin’s popularity and value increase, it may be worth looking further into the trend and possibly taking the plunge into the future of currency.
You can find out everything you need to know about Bitcoin before you step foot into the world of cryptocurrency at https://bitcoin.org/en/