During an interview earlier this year at e-merge Miami, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak revealed to CNBC that he invested in Bitcoin when the virtual currency was worth around $700, in order to “play around with it” and “see what it was like to try and shop with bitcoin at places like restaurants and hotels”. Back in March, the value of Bitcoin ($1,268) exceeded that of an ounce of gold ($1,233) for the first time in history, while the cryptocurrency climbed to an all-time high of $3,012.05 in June of this year. While Wozniak didn’t reveal exactly how much of the cryptocurrency he purchased, he’s already up at least approximately $2,300 in the unlikely scenario that he only purchased a single bitcoin.
The virtual currency, which allows users to make anonymous, private transactions of any amount without processing fees, is certainly stirring a significant amount of online debate and technology guru Wozniak seems to be a fan. However, the questions remains: is Bitcoin the future of online payment and if it is, which companies are already ahead of the curve? And what does Apple think about all this?
Despite previously pulling Bitcoin trading and storage apps Blockchain and Coinbase from the App Store, Apple issued a revised set of App store guidelines in 2014 along with the release of iOS8, clarifying their position on crypto currencies and explaining that “apps may facilitate transmission of virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with federal and state laws.”
American retailer Overstock was arguably one of the first major online retailers to accommodate Bitcoin payments. The internet giant teamed up with Coinbase (one of the most popular bitcoin exchanges) back in January 2014 to allow customers to pay for everything from laptops to throw pillows with the virtual currency. In a similar vein, US Travel company Expedia also teamed up with Coinbase in June 2014 and while it currently only allows users to pay for hotel bookings with Bitcoin, plans are already in place to expand this to include other activities such as payment for flights. The gaming industry also seems to have recognized the rise of cryptocurrency, with Vegas Casino currently offering users a sign up bonus in the form of Bitcoins when choosing from a vast number of online games. In fact, the provider is one of currently a handful of online casinos that have chosen to support Bitcoin exclusively, instead of in addition to other currencies.
Source: Expedia via Facebook
With the emergence of third-party food delivery services such as Eat24, it’s probably only a matter of time before the vast majority of these companies start accepting digital currency. However, online food delivery and takeout service Foodler will always be able to brag that they were well ahead of the curve, implementing a payment option for Bitcoin in early 2013. Foodler partners with over 40,000 restaurants across the country but as most of these don’t yet accept the digital currency, the online food ordering service cleverly converts your bitcoins into US Dollars before sending the payment through to the relevant food establishment. Now that’s going the extra mile for the customer, right?
Source: Foodler via Facebook
There are a number of reasons as to why cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are currently popular amongs the more internet- savvy users. They are safe, anonymous and their flow is determined entirely by market demand. Unlike traditional currency, they are not controlled or regulated by a singular authority as a result, they are seen by many as a means of the common man taking back control. Despite Bitcoin’s recent mammoth rise in value, it remains a fairly volatile beast and is arguably too easily driven by factors such as investor perception and bad press in the media. It is, however, easy to forget that the concept is less than ten years old and with the implementation of the still in its infancy, it’s difficult to predict just what the future holds for Bitcoin. All signs point to a rise, though, and Wozniak seems to agree.