Bitcoin Real-World Use Cases: 20 ways to Spend your Bitcoin in 2023
- By Ian Cheeseman
- November 27, 2023
Bitcoin, the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, has made a substantial impact on the financial landscape, evolving from a digital curiosity to a significant financial asset and payment method. Beyond that, there have been many Bitcoin real-world use cases, with more emerging all of the time, showcasing the evolution of Bitcoin in 2023 from its inception around 15 years ago.
In general, global cryptocurrency adoption has seen a marked increase, with over 420 million crypto users worldwide and an average global crypto ownership rate of 4.2% in 2023, reflecting digital currency adoption worldwide. Notably, countries like Nigeria, India, the USA, Vietnam, and Pakistan have shown substantial growth in cryptocurrency ownership.
Here are some real-world use cases for Bitcoin, from retail, remittance, and beyond!
E-Commerce and Retail
Bitcoin in e-commerce is increasingly prominent, with many e-commerce platforms and over 23,000 retailers allowing purchases using Bitcoin globally. Tech giants like Microsoft, AT&T, and Shopify are among those integrating blockchain technology into their payment systems.
Here are some other retailers that accept Bitcoin and other crypto as payment:
- Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack: These fashion retail giants have integrated cryptocurrency payments into their systems, partnering with Flexa to offer a modern payment solution.
- Barnes and Noble: As a leader in the bookstore industry, Barnes and Noble has adopted cryptocurrency payments, allowing customers to purchase books and other items using digital currencies through Flexa.
- Office Depot: Catering to the needs of office supply consumers, Office Depot now accepts cryptocurrency payments.
- Chipotle: This popular Mexican grill chain is embracing the digital age by allowing customers to pay with cryptocurrencies via Flexa.
- Regal Cinemas: A leader in the cinema industry, Regal has started accepting cryptocurrencies for movie ticket purchases, making it one of the first major movie theatre chains to do so.
- Sheetz: A renowned convenience store and coffee shop chain, Sheetz has incorporated cryptocurrency payments.
- Home Centric: Specializing in home goods, Home Centric has joined the cryptocurrency movement, accepting digital payments for their range of home décor and essentials.
- AMC Theaters: AMC, a prominent name in the entertainment industry, allows patrons to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin for online movie ticket purchases.
- Starbucks: Going beyond just Bitcoin, Starbucks has expanded its payment options to include Litecoin and Ethereum. This decision by the global coffeehouse chain highlights the increasing integration of cryptocurrencies in everyday consumer transactions.
- Shopify: As a major e-commerce platform, Shopify empowers merchants to accept Bitcoin, facilitating a more diverse and inclusive financial ecosystem for online businesses and consumers alike.
- Overstock: A pioneer in online retail, Overstock was one of the first to accept Bitcoin and continues this practice by issuing refunds for purchases made in digital currency, demonstrating its long-standing commitment to embracing digital financial technology.
Remittances and Cross-Border Transactions
Bitcoin is increasingly being used for international remittances and cross-border payments, offering a cheaper, faster, and more efficient alternative to traditional methods. The global remittance market is expected to reach $930 billion by 2026, with Bitcoin well-positioned to capture a significant market share (Dataconomy).
- El Salvador: After adopting Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021, El Salvador has seen some uptake in Bitcoin usage for transactions, including remittances. While businesses are officially required to accept Bitcoin, only some do due to technological and enforcement limitations. The impact on remittances has been modest, with only about 1% of received remittances being in Bitcoin in the first six months of 2023.
- Philippines: The Philippines, as one of the world's largest remittance markets, is seeing an expansion of services like Strike's Send Globally, which uses Bitcoin's Lightning Network for faster and cheaper international payments. Funds sent via this service can be received as local currency in the recipient’s bank or mobile money account. Strike, in partnership with Pouch.ph in the Philippines, converts dollars into bitcoin and then into local fiat currency for the final recipient.
- Venezuela: In Venezuela, cryptocurrencies have become increasingly important for remittances amid economic instability and hyperinflation. The significant emigration from the country since 2014 has turned remittances into a crucial part of Venezuela's economy, with many turning to stablecoins as an alternative for these transactions. Additionally, cryptocurrencies have been used to deliver direct aid to medical professionals in the country, circumventing the financial control of the Maduro regime.
- African Countries: In Africa, where access to traditional banking services can be limited, there is an increasing shift towards using the Lightning network and stablecoins for Bitcoin transactions, including remittances. This shift is driven by higher transaction fees on the Bitcoin network, with users preferring stablecoins like USDT for larger transactions and the Lightning network for smaller ones. The majority of the population in Africa is not familiar with the Lightning network, and there is a focus on educating new users about self-custody through the unchain network.
These examples demonstrate how cryptocurrencies are being leveraged to make cross-border money transfers more efficient and accessible, especially in countries with unstable currencies or limited access to banking services.
Additional Industries Accepting Bitcoin As Payment
With over 15,000 businesses worldwide accepting Bitcoin, it's no surprise that crypto payments have reached numerous industries beyond retail and remittance.
Here are some prominent examples of industries accepting crypto payments:
- Food and Beverage: In the food industry, Bitcoin acceptance varies from individual Subway franchises to a variety of independent coffee shops and eateries globally. For instance, a Subway in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was one of the first to accept Bitcoin in 2013. Besides Subway, numerous local restaurants and cafes around the world have adopted Bitcoin.
- Travel and Tourism: The travel industry is increasingly adopting Bitcoin for a more seamless and modern payment experience. Platforms like CheapAir and Destinia offer customers the convenience of booking flights and hotels using Bitcoin. Moreover, airlines such as airBaltic have been accepting Bitcoin for ticket purchases since 2014.
- Entertainment Services: In the digital entertainment domain, Microsoft stands out by allowing users to add Bitcoin to their accounts. This balance can be used for purchasing games, apps, and other digital content across Microsoft platforms, including the Windows Store and Xbox Store.
- Professional Services: Various professional service providers, including law firms, consulting agencies, and freelancers, have started accepting cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin's journey from a novel digital currency to a significant financial asset and payment method reflects its potential to transform various aspects of the global economy. Its growing adoption, investment opportunities, and technological innovations like the Lightning Network are testaments to its impact.
However, challenges such as scalability, volatility, environmental concerns, and the need for effective regulation highlight the complexities of integrating Bitcoin into the mainstream financial system. As Bitcoin continues to evolve, its role in the global economy will likely expand, albeit accompanied by ongoing debates and developments.
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