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From the beginning to a recent past, it was thought that Bitcoin (BTC) would become a viable alternative to the centralized payment systems existing in the market. However, BTC acts as a long-term investment – an asset much like gold or stocks.

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There are some reasons why and how this happens. First of all, the enormous systems such as Visa, MasterCard and Paypal have such a blockchain technology that it is very hard to compete with. For this reason, Bitcoin was never going to be a payment service.

One of the main reasons is the amount of transactions that the network is able to process. Bitcoin’s absolute maximum capacity is only 7 transactions per second (tps), and is capable of facilitating 24,000 tps whereas Visa easily handles an average of 150 mln transactions every day.

The network became bloated due to the fact that the demand for using Bitcoins and sending transactions increased. The amount of transactions as well as the waiting times and transaction fees have increased enormously.

According to blockchain.info’s data, the average waiting time in winter 2018 was calculated within the range of hours, and in some extreme cases, it was calculated to be hundreds, sometimes even thousands of hours. The graph peaked on 23 rd of January at an astronomical number of 20 days.

Transaction Fee is an Important Problem

Due to microscopic transactions sent through with tiny transaction fees (if any) such extreme waiting times were reached. Miners simply avoided confirming such transactions as it would be a waste of time and resources for them.

However, for the transaction to go through as quickly as possible, users had to pay massive amounts of fees for the miners to actually confirm them. According to BitInfoCharts, during the winter period, at one point, you to pay an average of $55 to see your transaction go through.

Of course, no one pays 45 BTC for a $3 dollar cup of coffee,and on top of that wait for hours to until transaction is confirmed. However, stating that ‘we accept Bitcoin’ is still a very useful PR stunt for businesses.

Despite of this set back, as of now Bitcoin seems to have gotten over the winter crisis. The waiting times returned to a 10-30 minutes and the transaction fees dropped back to around $1. But, will it hold?

Lightning Network

On the other hand, the Lightning Network, which is hailed to be the solution to Bitcoin’s scalability problem, is being successfully tested. When it is fully implemented, it might give us the opportunity to use BTC besides Visa.

However, it is hard to get over hard times. As a result of the winter crisis, several high-profile service providers and retails stopped accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. Here’s some of the largest companies:

  •         Dell — They were the biggest supporter of BTC payments, but gave up it due to low demand.
  •         Steam — It was possible to use BTC for game purchases, but as a result of high transaction fees and incredible volatility, stopped doing so.
  •         Fiverr — This freelance marketplace stopped accepting BTC for the same reason as Dell – lack of interest in the option.
  •         Stripe — A payment processor for businesses has recently ended to work with BTC due to slow confirmation times and high fees.

However, there are still a lot of services that uses Bitcoins:

List of Online Shops

  •        Overstock —  the first large online retailer to accept and fully support Bitcoin payments. You can buy anything from furniture to laptops and television sets.
  •        Newegg — an electronic retail giant is accepting Bitcoin payments for most of its stock.
  •        Shopify — an e-commerce platform that allows users to create their own online stores similar to Etsy and eBay.
  •        Etsy — around 100 vendors accept Bitcoin payments now.
  •        Microsoft — one of the biggest companies in the world. It allows users to add money to their accounts with Bitcoin.

Although most major online retailers are not accepting Bitcoins as a form of payment, there is a way of buying products from them using only digital currency. See the Gift Cards section below.

List of Aggregators

  •        Where To Spend Bitcoins UK — a directory of shops, pubs, websites and other places in the UK that accept Bitcoins.
  •        useBitcoins — a platform with almost 5,000 listed businesses that accept BTC.
  •        Coinmap — a map of Bitcoin-accepting businesses worldwide.
  •        Spendabit — a search engine capable of finding specific good available to buy for Bitcoins.

Services

It is a company’s own decision whether to accept digital currencies or not. Thus, there are no specific markets where BTC is universally accepted. Instead, there are various companies in different sectors of services looking to expand their client bases by introducing digital currencies as a new payment option.

  •        Dish Network — an American direct-broadcast satellite service provider.
  •        ExpressVPN — high speed, secure VPN network.
  •        PureVPN — high speed, secure VPN network.
  •        OKCupid — online dating website.
  •        WordPress — an online company that allows users to create websites and blogs.
  •        Reddit — you can buy premium features with Bitcoins.
  •        Namecheap — domain name register.
  •        Bloomberg, Chicago Sun-Times, etc — online-newspaper subscription for Bitcoins.
  •        SuicideGirls — a popular adult-themed community now accepts Bitcoins for a subscription.
  •        Treehouse — an online interactive education specialist, accepting Bitcoin for a variety of courses.

You Can Buy VideoGames

In the old times, you had to g oto a vdeo store to buy a video game. Now, you can buy them online. Video games are becoming a digital possession, much like digital currencies themselves. So it is not surprising that each day more leading game-selling platforms are accepting Bitcoins.

  •        Xbox — pay for games, add-ons and Xbox Live subscription.
  •        PlayStation Network — pay for games, add-ons and PS Network subscription.
  •        Humble Bundle — indie games website.
  •        Big Fish Games — casual gaming company based in Seattle, Washington.
  •        Green Man Gaming — games, game keys and digital games.
  •        Zynga — mobile and online games.

Travel

There are a lot of competing travel-related services most of which offer very similar toolkits. Offering alternative ways of payment is a great way to attract new customers. Here are some services where you can book your dream holiday and pay for it with your Bitcoins:

  •        Expedia — one of the world’s largest online travel booking agencies currently accepts BTC payments for hotel bookings. It is also planning to introduce Bitcoin payment option for flights, activities and so on.
  •        AirBaltic — the first airline ever to accept Bitcoin payment for a variety of flights.
  •        Webjet — a travel booking website offering flights, hotels, cruises, car hire and so on.
  •        CheapAir — online travel booking website where you can pay for flights, car rentals, railway tickets and so on.
  •        Bitcoin Travel — a travel booking website with one of the most comprehensive lists of businesses that use Bitcoin.
  •        Travel For Coins — a travel booking website that allows users to make their travel arrangements and pay for them with Bitcoins.
  •        Virgin Galactic — Richard Branson’s company, the world’s first commercial space line accepts Bitcoins.

Tipping & Charity

Donating money to charity often requires huge fees. Also, some people would prefer to keep their donations anonymous for any reasons. Donating money in Bitcoins is a perfect way of avoiding those fees and keeping the donation anonymous.

  •        Wikimedia Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual educational content.
  •        Wikileaks — an international non-profit organization that publishes secret information, news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources.
  •        Bitcoin for Charity List — A continually growing list of verified charities that accept Bitcoins. It even includes their wallet addresses!

Other Methods to Use Bitcoin

Unfortunately, there are very few major offline retailers that are accepting direct Bitcoin payments. However, it is possible to buy goods from most major shops using BTC. See the Gift Cards section below.

There is a mappable list of establishments that accept Bitcoin payments on Bitcoin.Travel and Coinmap.

Food, Bitcoin-friendly bars

  •         Subway — you can buy sandwiches with Bitcoins in various locations all over the world.
  •        PizzaForCoins — a service that lets you order pizza with Bitcoins.
  •         Pembury Tavern — a tavern in London, UK.
  •         Old Fitzroy — a pub in Sydney, Australia.
  •         The Pink Cow — a diner in Tokyo, Japan.
  •         Burger Bear — a food stall in London, UK.

Taxi

There are several taxi dispatch services as well as airport transportation services in various parts of the world that accept Bitcoin payment. Here’s a map list of such companies.

Gift Cards

A very big part of Bitcoin-related transactions are purchases of gift cards. You can be sure that it is by far the easiest way of buying products online and offline from both companies worldwide and small local businesses with the cryptocurrency.

Several websites allow users to buy gift cards which can be bought in any value with Bitcoins. Among them are:

eGifter, Gyft, purse.io, Cryfter, Instagift, Yes to Bitcoins! and Fold App.

Merchants accepting Bitcoins in Japan

Recruit Lifestyle Co., Ltd. partnered with Japanese Bitcoin exchange Coincheck in the beginning of 2017, and they created a point-of-sale app called ‘Mobile Payment for AirREGI.’ After the release of this app, merchants all around the country started to accept BTC payment easily.

The first rollout saw a chain of 334 eyeglass stores across Japan to begin accepting Bitcoins. Currently, there are around a total of 260,000 commercial facilities, food establishments, drugstores and other retail locations all over the country accepting BTC.

Two of the latest additions to the growing list of merchants accepting Bitcoins are famous capsule hotels, Comicap and Anshin Oyado. Also, a major consumer electronics retail chain Bic Camera and Kai Corporation, which owns five unique restaurants in Japan.

Bullion traders

If you wish to store your fund in a solid form, you can use companies like BitGold, which specializes in utilizing gold for payments and savings, including Bitcoin. There is also a company called Amagi Metals, which has been trading Bitcoins for precious metals since 2012.

Unusual ways of spending Bitcoins

In 2013, The University of Nicosia, a private school in Cyprus, started to offer a program called “Master of Science in Digital Currency.” It accepts BTC. If you wish to study this program, you can pay your tuition fees in Bitcoins.

Meltdown Comic Shop in Los Angeles is the first-ever comic book store to accept Bitcoins.

If you made a fortune with Bitcoin, there is a luxury BTC marketplace BitPremier, where you could buy a villa or a very expensive yacht. Also, a US luxury jewelry chain Reeds has recently started accepting Bitcoins.

You can also try your luck on one of the numerous Bitcoin online casinos and gambling sites.

Lastly, the mysterious dark web is filled with websites and marketplaces, where Bitcoins are accepted for a variety of goods and services, most of which are completely illegal in most countries.

How to spend ETH?

If you have a few extra Ether tokens lying around, here’s a list of places where you can spend them:

  •        Overstock — Furniture, electronics, jewellery, home decor and so on. Ether payments are facilitated via an integrated ShapeShift tool.
  •        TapJet — A Houston based private jet booking platform.
  •        CryptoPet — A pet supplies shop that accepts various cryptocurrencies.
  •        Snel.com — VPS hosting service.
  •        QHoster — VPS hosting service.
  •        FlokiNET — VPS hosting service.
  •        TorGuard — VPN service.
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