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Ask HN: Where do you spend Bitcoins?
55 points by emilepetrone on Nov 23, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments
I've heard from store/marketplace owners that have implemented BTC that they get very few transactions through BTC. As the founder of an online marketplace, [Tindie](http://www.tindie.com), I'm very interested in learning if adding BTC checkout has a dramatic impact on sales.

My suspicion, which I think many BTC skeptics hold, is that most BTC transactions are more for currency conversions than purchasing goods.

HN, where are you spending your bitcoins? Maybe I've got my head in the sand, and bc I don't own any BTCs, just don't notice the places you can spend them?

(Any store/marketplace operators I'm also interested to hear your experiences post implementing BTC checkout).

I buy reddit gold[1], Amazon giftcards[2] (with 3% cashback!), grilled cheese sandwiches[3], belgian waffles [4], donate to causes[5], and will be booking a flight[6] using them soon. I also use BTC/LTC for personal payments between friends and co-workers pretty often.

[1] https://ssl.reddit.com/gold

[2] http://www.gyft.com/shop-for-gift-cards/

[3] http://wizardsofcheese.com/wizardscreed.html

[4] https://www.facebook.com/thewaflstop

[5] http://seansoutpost.com/

[6] http://www.cheapair.com/

Booking a flight with bitcoin.. Doesn't that seem even more suspect than booking a flight with cash?

He'll still have to provide ID documentation to get on the plane (and I think also to book the flight, under the TSA Secure Flight program) so in practice the government doesn't lose any information here. It might raise suspicion, but he doesn't gain any anonymity.

I'd been planning to head over to a local food truck this week until the market became too volatile; nobody knows how to price things. If BTC becomes a functional currency, it'll be when the price is stable to better than 10% over week-to-month timescales. That has happened in the past.

In general, I'd much rather give value to a vendor than play the credit-card --> reward points --> $ game to reduce the effective cost of the charges credit-card companies levy on vendors.

Every time I write and mail a check or arrange for a bank balance transfer, I think "Man, if only the person at the other end used bitcoin. This would be faster, easier, and cheaper." It's so much easier for person-to-person transfers than carrying cash, making change, etc. You can also get a sense for how much practical use bitcoin is getting by searching Craigslist for "Bitcoin".

At the moment, there aren't that many places to spend them. The economic exchange systems we have today are quite good. It remains to be seen if any other system is ultimately superior.

In my local craigslist, there are 9 results.

One was an email address, so false result, and 3 more were not real goods, rather offers to buy/sell bitcoin itself.

Actually just ordered out this evening, bought my family of 6 dinner (sushi, etc.) for 0.046 BTC at http://lieferservice.de which supports hundreds of restaurants throughout Germany.

We keep an "order out" Bitcoin budget and refill it with new Bitcoins from time to time. REALLY cheap food due to the BTC prices as of late.

+1, I ordered dinner using Bitcoin from a nice Greek place via lieferservice.de when I was staying in Berlin—perfect experience.

It definitely won't hurt you, implementing Bitcoin payments isn't very hard and you usually don't pay anything to get started. You could also get free publicity if you have a good item listing and accept Bitcoin, because still not so many marketplaces do that.

I apologize for blatant advertising, but my colleague and I run https://www.bitcoinshop.us, an attempt to host a vast amount of inventory available for purchase with BTC. If anyone has any comments or suggestions on how to improve our service, we would appreciate it very, very much!

I've lurked on HN for quite some time, but could not pass up this opportunity to obtain feedback from such an excellent community.

I have spent a little at http://takeaway.com in the UK, but I'm primarily seeing it as an investment.

I know that we also need to start spending it for it to have any real value, so my wife and I agree that as of January we're going to start putting our takeaway funds into bitcoin and gradually spending that, while also keeping some aside as an investment.

I implemented BTC checkout with giftcardzen.com (We sell discounted gift cards to all major retailers) To be honest, working with coinbase was lackluster. One ridiculous thing that coinbase did, was delete the post back url if they didn't receive a 200 response. So, if the site happened to be down for 1 minute when it posted...the subsequent posts would just go into a void.

Other than that, make sure you have some BTC pre-purchased in the event you need to do an equivalent of a refund. The BTC that comes in through checkout, can not be used if the customer needs that BTC back.

Interesting, thanks posting.

Roughly how many $ of bitcoin sales do you do?

A lot of Bitcoin-related services seem kind of sketchy - they get hacked or disappear with a bunch of other people's bitcoins. What sort of steps have you taken to protect yourselves / minimize your exposure to the risk your payment processor will get hacked?

It's not going to have a dramatic impact on your sales. Not a lot of people are going to pay you with bitcoin today, and of those who would, most of them would have used another payment method if you didn't accept bitcoin.

It's fairly irrelevant to you as a vendor whether most transactions are currency conversion, though. Who cares? What matters to you is your bottom line, not what the economy as a whole looks like.

What actually matters is how much it costs you to implement vs how much extra revenue it brings you. Given that it wouldn't cost much at all, why not add it?

vs how much you can lose from market volatility.

The thing that would scare me about accepting bit coin for transactions is that in a scenario where BTC is rapidly losing value, it would be easy for lots of orders to be placed in a short amount of time.

Afaik Bitpay basically guarantee the what you get as a merchant. Your price your stuff in US$ and it's converted to Bitcoin at the checkout at a rate they are willing to sell them at (presumably on the open market)

e.g. I just tried to buy 36 months of reddit gold at $89.97, which came up as 0.10454514 BTC = $860/BTC... which is almost exactly the trading rate on Bitstamp.

Yeah, but you have to pretty much turn that money back into cash ASAP if the value of BTC is dropping, or else someone pays you 1 BTC for something and that's worth ~$800 one day and $100 another. If it's just in an account, you've lost a lot of value, right?

You can use bitcoin as a payment network so that you have zero bitcoin price exposure. Truly none.

For example, with BitPay your POS terminal tells a price denominated in USD to BitPay, (BitPay quotes a bitcoin-denominated price to the customer with a unique address and the customer pays), and then BitPay tells the merchant the payment came through. BitPay credits the merchant account the USD-denominated value. At the end of the day, BitPay settles up the account (eg. ACH payment to merchant bank account).

Never does the merchant hold bitcoins.

Tbh, I thought Bitpay did all that for you.

About once a week I'll settle up with friends using BTC out of convenience and, to be honest, novelty. For example, at a restaurant instead of splitting a bill across 6 cards, one person will pay and the other 5 will send btc for their amount (cash's divisibility is a problem).

About once a month I'll use Gyft to buy something on Amazon to get the 3% back.

I also buy a VPN, PrivateInternetAccess, using bitcoins.

>My suspicion, which I think many BTC skeptics hold, is that most BTC transactions are more for currency conversions than purchasing goods.

We get about one BTC order a week at my store and then hold our bitcoins rather than immediately cashing out for USD. The largest orders were from someone who told us overtly that they were basically making orders from us as a way of cashing out their bitcoins.

Going to spend mine on consumer electronics. It's hard though not even a few months ago I threw in 50$ and bought at $124. Spent a little, but now my BTC is worth over $250. I know it could be worth $15 tomorrow but still three LCD's for $50 sounds right up my ally.

I buy all my domain names at Namecheap.com with bitcoin.

So far I've bought domain renewals at Namecheap and a few rounds at the pub. Both faster and easier than paying by card. I intend to buy my next flights at btctrip.com.

I'm aware BTC's appreciating value so I periodically top up to offset spending.

As an add-on question, how do stores or online retailers set prices in BTC's? It would seem that you'd need to have indexed prices (like wages in some high inflation countries) to know what you're actually charging for something.

At our store at bitelectronics.net, we set the prices in USD, then with cron we update the price every 15 minutes. This is done by using a average sell rate from Mt.Gox.

I used to spend them at Silk Road, when I was regularly using Ritalin to perk my mind up a bit after a close bereavement that decimated my capacity for mental work.

Also bought a domain name at Namecheap, which I was going to use for a Bitcoin mixing service which worked by moving such transactions through SR's mixer.

But then when SR was shut down I was left with a few BTC that I had no reason to use. Just cashed out at ~$800/BTC, which paid for all my drug purchases and the failed mixing website experiment - with a very small profit.

I think I'm done with Bitcoin now. It has no use to me as a currency as everything I'd want to purchase now I can use real money for.

You won't get many bitcoin sales right now, especially with the market being so volatile over the past few weeks, but the integration should be pretty easy and you might get some good publicity out of it. Posts about stores accepting bitcoin generally attract quite a few upvotes on the bitcoin subreddit.

Also, if you keep the money in bitcoins, you could gain if the price keeps rising, making your bitcoin sales worth more. Of course, that's a risky bet, but the potential upside is still 10x-100x over the next few years.

+1 People should support vendors which accept bitcoin by making it public that they paid with bitcoin @ X store. I made paidwithbitcoin.com a while back. I still think its a good idea. People should tweet #paidwithbitcoin and mention the website where they bought. Would make it super easy to build listings of sites which accept them from all the tweets.

To answer the original question, I've recently used bitcoin to pay for my VPN subscription @ hidemyass.com

Currently, I spend them only on the Humble Bundle (okay, I don't have much).

I advise you to look at Coinbase API if you want to implement checkout using BTCs.

I bought a domain with it. Although I'm not quite fond of the potential traceability. I earned the money by playing poker. In a way someone could link my personal information I had to give up to make the purchase to my poker habits and the guy who sold me the initial bitcoin in the first place who might or might not be a marijuana dealer.

I bought VPN access with bitcoin around a year ago. I would have used it more often in the past, but most of the time when I wanted to buy / pay something online they had no support for Bitcoin, but support for Paypal, so I still use Paypal more. I guess if there's more uptake, I may chose Bitcoin in those situations more often.

Back when BTC was ~$10 I was going to purchase 20 or so but decided on another VPN provider and never ended up buying them. Oops!

This is handy: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/11/20...

Several businesses around me I wasn't aware of take it.

Its hard to justify its use as a transactional currency when its capital appreciation is so high. Perhaps the adjacent question is "why spend it on anything"? At the moment...this may impact the evolution of transactional infrastucture...in terms of ROI (when timing is considered).

By that logic wouldn't it best to buy everything possible through bitcoin? i.e. transfer fiat you would spend on products to bitcoin and enjoy deflationary prices

I don't think that entirely how the economics work. If you transfer your EUR, USD, whatever to Bitcoin, it would make sense to delay any purchases to next week/month/year, because you would at this point get more value for your Bitcoins. This is bad for any retail that's not sell food or other essentials, where you can't delay the purchase.

When you see government and national bank attempt to pump out money, they are trying to do the opposite. This means that if you want to buy a new TV there's no point in waiting, you won't get a significantly better deal next month.

Bitcoins are still a bit weird, because you currently can't cash in large sums. You can't do your transactions in Bitcoin, you need a stable proxy currency for setting the value of your goods. We have maybe 8000 active products currently, all manually price in five difference currencies to maximize profit. This only works because these currencies are pretty stable and we can avoid adjusting the price for a product after a few month after initial release. It priced in Bitcoin, we would have to adjust the price of every single item multiple time a day. Of cause given the price fluctuation it would still be more profitable to simple buy Bitcoins, rather than physical goods and the later sell them... But that would be bad for employment.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of Bitcoin, precisely for the reason other people like it. I believe that governments need to be able to control currencies. If you don't trust your government, then that's a different problem.

Would it be valuable to you to have a single base currency in which prices are set (i.e. with a rate derived from the composite of underlying currencies), which then automatically sets the prices in the other currencies? I ask you partially because we are developing something like that and I'm not super aware of how large e-commerce providers handle this problem.

No, not valuable at all. I thought that it would make sense to, initially.

You want to set the price in each marked separately, finding the maximum price for that product in the given market. A product you can sell for say £10 in the UK, might sell equally well for the equivalent of £12 or even £15 in Scandinavia. You could sell the item for the £10 in every country, but why miss out on the profit?

Just using an exchange rate won't take the market (competition) and purchasing power in the different countries. Also you'll end up fighting sells personal who will want to be able to set the sales price, or set them as dictated by the suppliers ( it's technically illegal in many countries, but very few are willing to fight the suppliers, so you need to support it ).

Even in the Euro countries you'll want to be able to price a product differently in each country.

Would depend on your working capital position/turnover.

At the end of the day, you want to be net-long BitCoin. Its hard to set up a systemic trade like that because its one-sided. The price of the underlying assets just becomes a distortion. That is if I am understanding you correctly.

Just found this: http://www.bitcoinblackfriday.com/

Basically a mailing list of merchants who accept Bitcoin and are doing special Black Friday sales end of this month. Probably of interest to people in this thread.

FYI: CaVirtex (a Canadian BTC exchange) is holding a $500 shopping cart integration contest to attract developers to their API.


A lot of people in bitcoin discussions online tend to bring up http://www.gyft.com, but maybe things spend their BTC on other things in private. :)

>buying anything with Bitcoin


Why would anyone do this? Tomorrow you could buy two of the thing you bought today. At this moment in time Bitcoin is not a viable currency and you would be foolish to spend it like that.

You asked why anyone would buy something with Bitcoin. Imagine you buy something on Amazon, you can buy bitcoins (with a 1% fee) at coinbase, and use Gyft which gives you 3% back. You end up getting (1+3%)/(1+1%) ~ 2% back.

You can also always replenish your bitcoin holdings at the end of the day, if you want to maintain a certain amount of bitcoin exposure.

Gyft.com is my go to place for instant conversion of BTC to a medium (a gift card) I can spend in my local Target or CVS Pharmacy. Their reward system rebates 3% of BTC purchases.

https://bitdazzle.com has products from hundreds (thousands?) of merchants, and you can buy any of them with Bitcoin.

Gyft.com is a great place to buy gift certificates with bitcoin. Massdrop.com has some great deals on electronics, including Yubikeys, 3D printers, and audio equipment.

coinmap.org has a pretty slick interface for people to search for brick and mortar businesses accepting bitcoin. Although it is incomplete. It would be nice to have BitPay and Coinbase share their merchant data with coinmap so the industry has a better, complete search tool for consumers. Only way to promote consumer appetite to spend vs. hoard bitcoin is with better awareness of merchant acceptance.

The future.

I just bought a bunch of (physical) magic: the gathering cards from abugames.com

Related question: How do you all earn bitcoins aside from mining?

You purchase them on exchanges (or from individuals).

I used it to donate to What.CD and buy a Namecheap domain.

2 Raspberry Pi kits at Bitcoinin.

VPN services at PIA.

Donation to LibreOffice.

Reddit gold.

About to use some on Adafruit products.

Namecheap - domains, ssls, hosting

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