How are people spending Bitcoin in 2019?

A common criticism that we see being levelled at cryptocurrency time and again is that it fails to meet one of the basic requirements of a currency. That is to say if you have a virtual wallet full of Bitcoin, Ethereum or Ripple, you can’t use it to buy the groceries, fill the car up with fuel or pay your mortgage.

The crypto gurus and developers say it is just a matter of time, and in the grand scheme of things, the technology is still in its infancy. Some might argue that we have been hearing the same thing for years, and will still be hearing it ten years from now, but if you take a closer look, there are some early indications of a changing tide. Here are some ways you can spend your crypto right now.

Digital transactions in the digital world

Part of the problem of widespread adoption is a conceptual one. If you are waiting to use Bitcoin or Ethereum in the same way as you use dollars, you will have a long wait. Converting from one to the other incurs transaction costs, and while they are not as prohibitive as they once were, they still render crypto impractical for everyday purchases in the physical world.

However, look online and it is another matter. For digital transactions, a digital currency fits like a glove. Suddenly issues of security and transaction costs evaporate. The real point is that physical money is as inappropriate online as crypto is in a world of physical coins and banknotes.

The online gaming and gambling arena is a perfect example, and is one that has been an early adopter of Bitcoin and Ethereum. As more casinos and sportsbooks have opened up, a growing number of people have taken to the internet to spin the reels or perhaps to back a horse on the Unibet horse racing website. With big name brands like this, customer are confident. However, there is a growing number of names that are not so well known, and here, a common obstacle is the awkwardness of getting money from your bank to the betting account and vice versa.

Direct bank transfers take time, often incur costs and can cause security concerns. Using an intermediary such as PayPal or Skrill is another option, and one that many adopt, but is seems needlessly complex and adds yet another link in the chain.

Clearly, there are some clear benefits to using crypto here, and plenty of the betting sites are jumping on board. Speed, security, anonymity and lack of transaction costs are also tempting a growing number of punters to opt for Bitcoin or altcoins when they fancy a flutter.

Other early adopters

Despite the obstacles, there are plenty of people who are determined to make crypto payments a viable option in the physical world, too. For example, last year, German Fintech firm Bitwala launched its cryptocurrency bank, through which users can pay for everyday transactions with a digital currency debit card. Bitwala CEO Jorg von Minckwitz describes it as a “one-stop solution," that is no more complicated than a normal bank account.

Crypto might not yet be our currency of choice, but these are just a few signs that broader adoption could be just around the corner.

This article was submitted by Alex Larsens.