It is true that the number of merchants that have Bitcoin as one of their payment options is on the rise. However, still the majority of stores and establishments both online and offline, including large internet based retailers such as Amazon and eBay, do not accept it.
This inconveniences holders of bitcoin. Moreover, this situation stands in the way of an increasing number of shoppers to whom paying with the digital currency, in as many places as possible, promises security for privacy and a significantly low cost of transactions.
The good news, however, is that despite the small number of merchants accepting cryptocurrency, you can still order almost anything you want online and pay with Bitcoin if you know how.
This is possible through platforms that are coming up to facilitate movement of monetary value in bitcoin to online merchants, without the latter having to do anything. The platforms majorly fall into those that work through gift cards and those that act as shopping Bitcoin exchanges.
Buy Gyft cards and redeem them on Amazon and eBay
One of the first major brands to accept payment with Bitcoin is Gyft.com, an online platform that lets users not only manage their digital gift cards but also buy and redeem them on numerous stores.
Indeed by including Bitcoin in their payment options in early 2013, Gyft.com opened doors for shoppers to pay with bitcoin in various online stores. Currently, you can buy gifts cards with bitcoins and use them to shop in over 150 establishments, most of which don’t accept the cryptocurrency for payment.
Indeed as a part of the expanding options on the platform for bitcoin users, ChangeTip has just announced that users can now exchange their tips for gift cards on Gyft.com.
Use online shopping Bitcoin exchange
If shopping with a redeemable digital gift card is not your style, then you have the option of using one of the several online shopping Bitcoin exchanges. These platforms, as the name suggests, function as both shopping sites as well as Bitcoin exchanges, where users can exchange fiat for bitcoin.
What sets them apart from other Bitcoin exchanges, in particular, is the fact that here one can use practically any other payment method, including credit cards and PayPal, to instantly buy bitcoins.
This is possible because a buyer of Bitcoin does not pay directly for bitcoins, which most of these payment options either disapprove off or take long to complete, but he or she pays for a Bitcoin owner shopping on Amazon or eBay.
You, the shopper, on your part, will transfer an equal amount of bitcoins to the person who pays for your shopping on the online retail store.
Indeed, the shopping Bitcoin exchanges act as marketplaces where people looking to shop using bitcoins are matched with those seeking to buy bitcoins using their credit cards, bank account or even PayPal.
Indeed, the arrangement of these platforms satisfies two needs; using credit cards to buy bitcoins and shopping with bitcoins on online stores that do accept the cryptocurrency.
To guarantee the performance of the contract you and the buyer of your bitcoins enter, the platforms use the escrow feature. This ensures that you cannot take back your bitcoins after the delivery is done, and the payer cannot take the bitcoins before you receive the item you ordered for.
Indeed, both the shopper and the payer will have to authorize the movement of the bitcoin after the delivery of ordered item. In the event there is a dispute, the matching platform will use its copy of the keys to the escrow account to resolve it.
The first of these platforms to come into the market was Brawker. However, it shut down after facing difficulties in scaling transactions.
However, since then similar marketplaces have sprung up and succeeded in cutting niches for themselves.
One of these is Purse.io, which is run by a California-based company. As of the time of writing this article, Purse.io facilitates only shoppers from the US. However, its management has expressed interest to extend the services beyond North America.
Another success story is All4BTC, which operates from Germany and, unlike Purse.io, serves clients from all around the world. The site has a Google Chrome extension through which it offers its services. On top of shopping from major online retail stores, All4BTC does also facilitate payment of utility bills to service providers that do not accept bitcoin.
As you can see, while bitcoin is yet to be accepted everywhere you go shopping, it is still possible to buy practically anything you need using the cryptocurrency.