Places That Accept Bitcoin

You've earned, mined, or purchased your bitcoin. Now, how do you spend it?

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So, you’ve got yourself a bitcoin address. You’ve figured out the best wallet to use. And you’ve mined, earned, or bought some bitcoins to get started with. So, where can you spend them?

Bitcoin has always been a grassroots effort, with individual merchants getting wise to the technology and offering it because customers asked for it, or because they wanted to be part of a growing movement. The benefits for merchants are pretty clear, so it was only a question of time before numbers started to grow.

Directories

You’ll find a lot of technology-focused companies in directories of merchants accepting bitcoin, because these companies were among the first to understand and appreciate the technology. These are companies like for web hosting firms and domain name registrars, who appreciate the chance to sell online services to unknown customers without worrying about credit card chargebacks and fraud.

Since then, other merchants have been gravitating to bitcoin. Everyone from coffee shops to auto body shops and massage therapists started getting in on the act.

You’ll see a variety of these merchants in directories that list places to spend your bitcoins. Some are regionally specific: Bitcoinada focuses on Canucks north of the border, for example, and listed over 330 merchants at the time of writing. Brits can check out Where To Spend Bitcoins UK for local merchants ranging from tattoo parlours to burger joints.

Other sites like BitPages, Whotakescoin and the Bitcoin Merchants List also list local merchants, but take a more global perspective. Looking for bitcoin-friendly furniture shops in Luxembourg or renewable energy equipment in Pratt, Kansas? Well, there you go. The problem is, who’s going to be that specific?

 

Those old enough to remember the early days of the commercial web in the mid-nineties will remember similar directories to these, only they highlighted web sites, which were about as common back then as bitcoin merchants are in 2015.

This tells us that we’re still in the early days of this technology phenomenon, where enthusiasts posted every relevant site that they could, just to document support and help to pull the community together. It’s necessary, and kind of sweet, but it’s still a sign that adoption of bitcoin needs to be pushed until it reaches a tipping point.

Some of these sites are more sophisticated, including graphical maps to help you see where you can spend your stuff. CoinMap is one example. BitcoinMaps is another.

Online Stores

Grassroots adoption will spread in this way, but bitcoin needs support from other areas to help get it moving. There have been some anchor companies that have shown support for the cryptocurrency by accepting it.

Microsoft is one of them. The firm announced support for bitcoin in its online store, enabling customers to buy games, apps, music and video from its online store.

Perhaps more important, though, are the large online retailers that underpin the e-commerce industry.

One of these is Overstock, which began accepting bitcoins in January 2014, as did online electronics retailer TigerDirect. Competitor NewEgg wasn’t far behind, announcing bitcoin support in June.

Why are these so important? Because you can go to these web sites to buy a variety of products from different vendors, expanding bitcoin’s utility.

There are other e-commerce sites, launched specifically to support bitcoin but courting a variety of retailers. Bitcoin Shop is one such site. CoinMade, an Australian site, lists bitcoin-friendly online stores, chosen by its users.

Another interesting development is Gliph, which has a Craigslist-style marketplace available via the web or online phones, which finds items for sale nearby, and lets you pay for them in bitcoin.

Gift Cards

There are other services that let you spend your bitcoins on pretty much anything.

One, Gyft, lets you buy store gift cards using bitcoins. Then, you can redeem them anywhere.

Gyft supports over 200 retailers ranging from Amazon, through CVS Pharmacy and eBay, to iTunes. This is an ingenious way of enabling bitcoin users to spend their coins practically anywhere, even though it adds another step to the process.

Then, don’t forget Brawker. This site lets you spend your bitcoin at any e-commerce store, whether it takes the cryptocurrency or not, providing you can find a willing partner to help you.​

Over time, bitcoin merchants will grow and flourish. But one of the biggest boosters to its adoption may not come from individual merchants jumping on board. Instead, it may get its biggest shot in the arm from companies providing infrastructure services for online transactions. Who are they, and what are they doing? Find out here.