Your Bitcoins Are Finally Worth Something

Posted: May 10, 2013 in GT, Startup

Bitcoins are nominally worth $113 as of this very
moment. That means very little in the real world. As
Forbes writer Kasmir Hill notes, it’s pretty difficult to
go up to the McDonald’s cashier and offer an invisible
cryptocurrency that resides entirely on the Internet in
exchange for a Big Mac. She’s survived a week using nothing but Bitcoins and, although she’s still alive, her
experience wasn’t friction-free. That’s changing. While I find most announcements
that so-and-so website is now accepting Bitcoins to
be little more than PR stunts, the fact that Gyft, a gift
card site, is now accepting BTC is important. In
essence, it allows Bitcoin users to turn their value
into store credit and, more importantly, this credit can be spent at places you actually want to spend it. As I wrote before, Bitcoin has a last mile problem.
Human beings need food, shelter, and entertainment
(read: sex) and excepting a few very rare instances,
none of these things can be purchased with Bitcoin.
Right now, for example, I can order Papa John’s
(shudder) through Foodler and pay with Bitcoin, but I can’t go into Papa John’s and get the deed done. I
could get some entertaining substances with Bitcoin,
but that’s about it. That’s where services like Gyft come in. While some
would say that this is probably one of the most novel
money laundering schemes anyone has seen in a
while – you can feasibly spend “spare” cash without
alerting the authorities if you have a ready supply of
Bitcoin sellers handy – you could also say that this is the way forward for money transfers. Barring a
working Bitcoin machine on every street corner, this
is the next best thing. I’m honestly glad that Bitcoin is gaining in popularity.
Like PayPal before it, the platform helps more than it
hurts. Even PayPal of late has been the bad guy but
it’s an amazing feeling to be able to control how you
pay for goods and services via a protected and
ostensibly safe online bank. I remember vividly the trepidation I felt when I first gave my back account
info to PayPal back in 2000, and now PayPal is my
payment service of choice simply because I don’t like
typing in my credit card number. Bitcoin is PayPal on steroids and geeks, who are the
perfect target audience because they never give up
and have plenty of resources at their disposal, are the
ones leading the charge. It takes smarts to mine
Bitcoins but it doesn’t take many to buy them. This is
a good thing. Until we can zap Bitcoins to the cashier at Arby’s,
we’re not really living in the future. However I think we
just took one step towards that future. It feels good.

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