There’s a lot of rambling about Bitcoin, but let’s check out directly why things are frying up, maybe in slow-burns and high sizzles (and even when kept on a low-heat setting).
There are short and long answers: from payment card integrations to more subtle uses, but certainly a growing number of things. It’s also a gateway into a world of awesome, decentralised, unstoppable tech.
You can still view Bitcoin as an investment, speculating that the future price of this still-young and volatile digital asset will grow massively. So far in 2019, it has proved to be (again) one of the best-performing assets out there.
Considering the advantages of Bitcoin — as secure, sound money, no need for a bank, where only you own it — there are certainly a lot of reasons to hang on to it. There’s also the whole movement surrounding it — what it stands for — and the considerable development going on across the entire cryptocurrency space. Regulation and ease of adoption are the only things still holding it back, and even without much of these the trend is growing. This global tech is pretty unstoppable now anyhow, a bit like fire from the gods.
Many people do use Bitcoin today as an easy-to-use, guaranteed way of sending money to friends, family or charities etc. anywhere in the world, or to pay for goods and services. The former is really its killer app, as the network is so secure. [See an earlier post on the difference between Transferwise and Paypal for overseas payments.]
And there are quite a few things you can do with Bitcoins, besides hoard them like gold, buy gold (via Bitpanda, the ‘Coinbase of Europe’ for example) or trade them for other things. People underestimate its relationship with the rest of the market. If the Bitcoin price goes up, the chances are you can invest in many other crypto projects easily and for a good price.
[Disclaimer: Yes, this article includes some of my affiliate links/offers, which may benefit you too!]
Get some first
First, it’s getting easier to buy Bitcoin — or exchange it from traditional currency — but today the easiest ways are still via online exchanges like Coinbase (based in the US) or Bitpanda (based in Europe). That’s where you can get some. An even better way is to set up a recurring purchase (pre-load your fiat wallet first). This way you can ride the market up or down, and not worry about it (it’s called dollar-cost averaging).
There are also more direct ways like LocalBitcoins.com and OTC (over-the-counter) options for large purchases. The local option may encourage you to meet up with your local Bitcoin seller in person.
Or just get a Wirex card, and buy it with the slick mobile app. I love Wirex. You can convert Bitcoin to traditional money (and load up your visa card) on the go via a smart mobile app.
If you’re a Revolut new banker, let it round up your spare change into Bitcoin and see your vault grow like that. Nice.
If you buy some from the major exchanges, it appears simply in your Coinbase or Bitpanda wallet. Crypto is held securely by these companies but for longer term storage, you should send some to a more secure type of wallet like at Blockchain.com, or an (offline) hardware wallet. These give you better, personal control and control over your keys. What Bitcoin is all about.
But what else is Bitcoin for, besides investing it and potentially seeing a huge hike in value, as it becomes more scarce?
Buy goods and services
Overstock is the most well known, major US-based site currently accepting Bitcoin.
Check out a list of other sites and companies that accept it..
Set up your own shop selling… anything!
Buy or sell something at OpenBazaar.com, without any middle-man involved. Download the client software at this site, and you can be up and selling anything from home woodworking to old DVDs in no time. Just behave.
Buy or sell a house
You can even buy or sell a house with it, which cuts out the middle-man and lets you deal directly with the owner. Check out Bitcoin-RealEstate.com. This means neither of you lose anything to intermediaries or agents, in terms of fees. Propy.com will allow you put up a house pretty quick, and it will also use blockchain tech to handle important docs.
Use it for payments
As mentioned, order a top-up card with companies like Wirex, which will allow you convert Bitcoin easily to fiat currency when you’re out and about.
The new Coinbase Card has also now launched in the UK and Europe, but fees are quite high when it converts for you at point-of-sale.
Ideally, we will see merchants being able to accept crypto even more directly, straight from the wallets on our mobile phones, but… we’re not there yet, depending on your country.
You can book with a choice from thousands of hotels at Travala.com using a wide range of cryptocurrencies.
Normal currency is also accepted, and there is also a reward scheme and native token.
Mess around with monetized apps (dApps)
You can easily swap your Bitcoin for another blockchain crypto like Eos or Ethereum and start testing out dApps, or decentralised applications. These include collectible games although many still have a strong gambling focus.
There are also more serious IT tools or decentralised apps that leverage the Bitcoin network’s decentralised architecture. Be sure to explore the world of Blockstack.org where you’ll find dapps like Graphite, a decentralised version of google docs. Developer? Start learning about the tools that could help you develop your first dapp.
Earn interest or get a quick loan
You could just hold Bitcoin in a secure wallet that you control, or you can entrust it to a major project that will allow you to earn interest over time, or get an easy loan, using your Bitcoin as collateral.
BlockFi is one of the leading, trusted sites where you can deposit Bitcoin and earn interest.
Whalelend.com is very easy to use and has some great algorithms for interest.
Nexo.io will allow anyone with cryptocurrency to get a loan quickly and earn some interest on certain cryptocurrencies. You’ll need crypto to begin with! But it’s a great way to get more dollars and then…buy more bitcoin.
The Nexo payment card has now arrived too.
Buy gold and silver
Somewhat ironically (considering many consider Bitcoin to be a new and better form of gold) you can now easily buy digitized gold and silver at major crypto exchanges including Bitpanda. In our times of uncertainty gold has proved itself to be a hedge investment against many more risky assets, and it can be wise to diversify your portfolio.
Buy other cryptos (when prices are low): start investing and staking
On exchanges like Coinbase or Bitpanda (European version) you can easily swap Bitcoin for other crypto projects including the emerging dapp (decentralised application) platforms like Ethereum, EOS and Tezos, all up and coming blockchains. They will all have cool mobile apps to go with them. So once you’ve got an ID/wallet address, you’ll be able to delve deeper and experiment with the mobile apps and browser extensions.
You can be a little more intrepid and register on a larger exchange like Binance. There you will be able to seek out fascinating new crypto projects with bright — and not so bright — futures. Just be sure to buy low, and research. [For lots of ideas on coins that provide staking and passive income, check out my blog category…]
The price dominance of Bitcoin (at time of writing) is high versus other cryptocurrencies, meaning that you’ll get more of another crypto for your Bitcoin. There are many cryptocurrencies now with tokens for many aspects of life including education, book publishing, art, music-streaming, game-streaming, web-searching and just using an internet browser.
Many traders use the price of these lesser cryptocurrencies simply to sell back into Bitcoin at higher prices, so they can accumulate more bitcoin. But it in time we’ll see price breakouts.
Become a crypto fund manager
A site called Iconomi now allows anyone to deposit Bitcoin or traditional currency and create their own special basket of cryptocurrencies. You can set a management fee, set the structure, buy and sell and re-balance your fund at any time— inviting others to join it and invest. They can also buy more or sell their holdings obviously at any time. [See previous post on becoming Iconomi manager.]
Buy stocks and shares
Yes, although this might mess with your mind, it’s true that you can now use Bitcoin to invest in regular stocks and shares.
Check out Abra.com and not only buy cryptocurrencies but major companies like Amazon, Facebook etc in one app.
Buy rare art and ‘crypto-collectibles’
You can swap Bitcoin for Ethereum at any exchange including Coinbase, and use it to buy rare art and collectibles on marketplace like Opensea.io, MakersPlace etc. Including those made at Ade’s Press (!)
There are also more serious projects like Maecenas that allow you to invest in famous art just by purchasing their native ART token.
You can also purchase special crypto or bitcoin-inspired artwork at Cryptoart.com, where featured artwork doubles up as bitcoin wallets. Nice.
Buy stock art and photos
In a similar vein, you can buy stock photos with Bitcoin Lightning Network.
Charities and Tippping
Bitcoin is an ideal choice for donating to charity. Check out Bitcoin wiki for a detailed list of organisations now accepting donations in Bitcoin.
“The direct, transparent, and final nature of Bitcoin transactions also makes it a widely accepted means for donating to charities. Bitcoin Wiki provides a comprehensive list of charitable organizations that accept Bitcoin donations, including Fidelity Charitable, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Binance Charity Foundation.”
You can also buy up a ton of BAT and auto-pay all your favourite websites with the Brave browser each month. It will help them continue to produce content!
Got a freelance skill, from writing, illustration, music mastering to coding and website design? You might well find projects via this comprehensive list of sites where you can earn bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The main difference is lower fees versus traditional freelancing sites, but it might be hard to gain a footing to begin with. However, that all depends on the demand and the project.
Contribute to Everipedia for IQ tokens: Write wikipedia-style content for IQ tokens.
Swap some for SteemPower and support people+projects on Steempeak.com
If you’re rich in Bitcoin you might wonder how you can help others more by just throwing money at charities. A more personal approach would be to become a whale with Steem crypto and sign up for a Steem blockchain account on Steempeak.com.
There you will find tons of projects and people updating by posts and attracting interest in the progress for their individual efforts, be it developing Steem-based site or just gardening, making artwork or bigger community efforts. Delegate Steem Power and even get a return.
Start mining it! Help secure the network! You can take out a mining contract with eco-friendly mining projects based in Scotland like Flymining and pay up front for a steady, reliable flow of Bitcoin. Contracts depend on how much power you’re willing to pay for. Most of the time, you can pay with Bitcoin for contracts.
Other things coming…
The above is just a quick round-up of interesting Bitcoin-orientated sites, but there are many more, and ever-changing. There are a lot of developments (like second-layer) that could see the value of Bitcoin continue to rise. Even better payment cards could be the next major step, where conversion between fiat and cryptocurrency can occur instantly when paying for any goods at any typical store, yes… including Starbucks coffee.
Bitcoin vouchers can already be used in exchange for goods on most major websites. But there’s a good argument that Bitcoin should really be kept safe in a long-term storage wallet and not spent at all. Remember that pizza story?
Bitcoin and Facebook?
Right now, there is quite a lot of ‘anti-hype’ about the fact that Bitcoin can’t handle micro-transactions, or that they’ll be new and better blockchain-based cryptocurrencies (recently Facebook’s ‘Libra’) emerging.
However, it’s important to realise that Bitcoin may not need comparison with other cryptos. It was never supposed to be fast, or free to use. There are reasons for this: Bitcoin was built to be robust, trusted, decentralised, censorship-resistant and never to suffer interference or direct control by any government, institution or entity. And this is exactly what it is. It’s true that it’s not ideal for micro-payments, however there are solutions being developed (including the Lightning Network) and a lot of other options for those who possess it now emerging for the mighty network that underpins it. These include potential dApps (decentralised applications) and payment cards.
Heed not the ramble and attention-grabbing posts-for-the-sake-of-posting. Bitcoin is very likely here to stay, and become increasingly valuable. From being a very valuable unit of exchange to a safe, secure store of value, buying and holding or spending bitcoin is up to you.
What other uses are emerging? Feel free to comment below, and increase the value of this post!
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June 2019, revised Oct 2019
This is personal opinion and not investment advice. Always do your own research.
Note: the writer is an investor in a number of cryptocurrencies particularly Bitcoin.