Cryptocurrency isn’t just for hoarding: Today you can spend digital assets in your everyday life to pay bills, purchase games, make a charitable donation and much more.
Crypto Entering Consumer Life
Cryptocurrency is gradually becoming a normal part of consumer life, leading large and small retailers and shoppers of all types to take notice.
In this guide, we’re focusing on cryptocurrency utility: aside from using digital assets as an investment, they can be put to various uses – from retail therapy and charitable endeavors to gaming and bill management.
In fact, anything you can do with fiat currency like Pounds, Euro or Dollars you can now do with crypto.
You just have to know where to look for platforms that will receive your crypto in exchange for the goods and services you’re seeking.
Here are 8 of the most practical ways you can actually use cryptocurrency today.
Let’s dive in.
1. Shop With Crypto
It would be an overstatement to say that shopping with cryptocurrency is as easy as using cash or a bank card — but it’s certainly not difficult.
Over 18,500 venues worldwide accept cryptocurrency directly, from restaurants, cafes and bars to airlines, hotels, retailers, sports arenas and transport providers.
It’s simply a case of entering the merchant’s wallet address (usually represented by a QR code, particularly at brick-and-mortar establishments) and hitting Send.
There are various other ways to shop with cryptocurrency, including:
- Gift cards — such as eGifter, Gift Off, etc, purchased using cryptocurrency, or by exchanging crypto for an Amazon gift card using purse.io.
- Crypto-payment apps — such as MobiePay or BitPay.
- PayPal — to spend crypto at its 26 million worldwide merchants.
- Crypto debit cards — such as those offered by Wirex, Revolut, and Coinbase. These can be “topped up” with crypto using a linked bank account and used to spend local currency anywhere that accepts Visa/Mastercard.
As you can see, there are many options available if you’d like to spend cryptocurrency the same way you do cash.
Of course, many crypto users prefer to hodl* their digital currency and grow their portfolio. Even speculators appreciate the ease at which crypto can be swapped for goods and services.
*By the way, the word ‘hodl’ (in case you’re new to crypto) was made popular by the crypto community to mean ‘hold’ (keep for long-term) sometimes translated as ‘hold on for dear life’.
2. Game With Crypto
It’s easy to see why the worlds of crypto and gaming have collided, particularly given their shared tech-savvy demographic.
In the online gaming world, the use of cryptocurrency can eliminate handling and exchange fees due to the peer-to-peer nature of transactions between users. This is the case with decentralized applications (dApps), which run on a decentralized P2P network and include interactive games, many of which feature their own utility tokens.
A thriving market exists for gamers keen to buy and sell unique skins and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) too. Such items are created by games developers and made available for purchase in-app using cryptocurrencies like ETH.
The most popular gaming-focused cryptocurrency is Enjin Coin (ENJ), which boasts a market cap of $100 million and 24-hour volume exceeding $4.4 million. Decentraland (MANA), meanwhile, has a market cap of $98 million and 24-hour volume of $15.1 million. Each of these Ethereum-based cryptocurrencies enable users to interact with the respective virtual reality platforms.
3. Transfer Money With Crypto
Crypto remittance solutions cut out the middlemen (central banks, third-party financial service providers) and facilitate speedy transfer of cryptocurrencies between two parties.
If required, the recipient can convert the cryptocurrency to fiat, a process known as “cashing out.”
Platforms such as Circle and MetalPay can be used for this purpose. Transferring digital assets between two accounts is remarkably simple: to send funds from your wallet, all you need is the recipient’s address.
Major money transfer firms like MoneyGram are also exploring integration of blockchain technology. In 2019, MoneyGram partnered with crypto-transfer startup Ripple (XRP), integrating Ripple’s On Demand Liquidity product to trade FX at a corporate level using XRP.
MoneyGram CEO Kamila Chytil is also on record as saying that blockchain is the future of global cross-border payments and money transfers.
4. Pay Bills With Crypto
In the past, when a bill or invoice had to be paid, there was only one option: fiat. For crypto natives, this meant selling some of their coins, and missing out on the potential upside to hodling.
Thanks to platforms like Piixpay, that’s no longer the case. The service allows you to use crypto to cover invoices, bills and other recurring payments. Naturally, Piixpay handles the crypto-fiat exchange. The company operates in over 100 countries and charges a small fee (€1 + 1.75%) for transactions funded with crypto. Cointree is another option worth considering.
As for the 18,000+ global merchants who accept cryptocurrency directly, many allow customers to settle bills and invoices (for electricity, rent, subscriptions, etc) in their choice of digital asset.
5. Give With Crypto
In the last few years, charities have come to realize that barring crypto donations is leaving money on the table. Many nonprofits are now following the lead of WikiLeaks, which became one of the first organizations to accept bitcoin donations way back in 2011.
There are benefits from the donor’s standpoint, too: generally speaking, giving a gift of crypto does not constitute a taxable event, either to the donor or the charity itself.
Several of the world’s best-known charities accept donations made in cryptocurrency, including UNICEF, Save the Children, American Red Cross, No Kid Hungry, United Way, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the Water Project and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Many coronavirus charities also accept crypto donations.
Numerous blockchain platforms, Ripple and Binance among them, have made substantial cryptocurrency contributions to worthy causes over the years. Other startups have developed blockchain-based donations platforms.
6. Turning Crypto Into Cash
We’ve established that it’s easy to use cryptocurrency to pay for goods, services and bills, and to make donations to charitable causes that are close to your heart. It’s also a cinch to send crypto to friends and family, and to receive it in turn.
But what if you just want to turn your BTC, ETH or XRP into USD, GBP or EUR?
Well, one way of “cashing out” would be to use a Bitcoin ATM, of which there are over 11,000 worldwide. However, it should be noted that some only allow users to purchase bitcoin rather than sell it. The highest number of BATMs are located in the United States (83%).
The most private way of selling crypto would be to find a cash buyer. However, both buyer and seller could be understandably nervous about this sort of transaction. The alternative is to sell online via a P2P marketplace like LocalCryptos, using any of the supported payment methods such as Venmo or bank transfer. The platform matches buyers with sellers and utilizes an escrow account to ensure no-one gets ripped off.
Many crypto-fiat platforms also allow users to convert crypto into fiat in-app, and to then use this currency to make payments using their card or mobile app.
It’s also possible to sell cryptocurrency on a third-party exchange platform, and to then withdraw cash. However, some exchanges impose strict withdrawal limits.
With Kriptomat, selling Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies takes less than three minutes. After creating a Kriptomat account, you can buy instantly with Visa or Mastercard.
Simply select your cryptocurrency and the amount you’d like to purchase, enter your card details, preview the transaction and click to confirm. Other supported payment methods include SEPA bank transfer, Neteller, Skrill, and Sofort.
7. Distribute Content With Crypto
YouTube helped content creators monetize their output, and a slew of blockchain-based digital content distribution systems are following suit.
Theta is just one example. A decentralized, peer-to-peer network, the blockchain is powered by its own token (THETA), with viewers earning rewards for sharing excess bandwidth and resources. Content creators also earn more, with lower streaming costs. Theta supports multiple content verticals including music, TV, e-sports and live streaming.
Flixxo is another decentralized content distribution service, wherein users earn digital assets for sharing videos across the network. Content creators can also fund their projects by accepting investment from fans and followers.
The world’s best-known decentralized file-sharing protocol is, of course, BitTorrent. In 2019, after the company was taken over by the Tron Foundation, a native token (BTT) was launched to power features of the network’s protocols and applications. DApps powered by the TRC10 token include BitTorrent Speed, BitTorrent File System, and Dlive, with others in the works. You can buy Tron’s TRX token inside the Kriptomat app.
8. Cruise With Crypto
To round off the rapidly expanding list of crypto’s uses for consumer life, a cruise ship named after Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto is to be equipped with restaurants, casinos, medical services, a water park and offices for crypto companies and entrepreneurs. The preferred mode of payment? BTC.
Crypto: A Modern Kind of Money
The next time you hear someone try to complain that “you can’t do anything with crypto,” direct them to this page.
The fact is, bitcoin and other digital assets are excellent mediums of exchange, suitable for paying bills, buying electronics, making donations, playing games, placing wagers or funding projects. Whether you want to save, spend, or do a bit of both, it’s entirely possible to do so using your favorite crypto.