A cryptocurrency should be one thing above all for consumers: a means of payment. Like coins or banknotes, bitcoin could thus fulfill the function of a classic “fiat currency” in the future. However, there is no central bank that watches over the preservation of the value of crypto-money. The crypto network controls itself.
Managing crypto money in the wallet
If you have purchased crypto coins on a crypto marketplace, then you can store them directly on the crypto wallet. Alternatively, you can also create your own wallet. The following options are available to you for this purpose:
- Desktop wallets
- Hardware wallets
- Paper wallets
You do not only store your cryptocurrencies via the crypto wallet. You also use the digital wallet during the payment process. A common virtual wallet for tablets and cell phones are mobile wallets. These can usually be installed on the smartphone for free.
Attention risk: hacker attacks are possible
Like all applications that are connected to the Internet, mobile wallets are not one hundred percent secure against hacker attacks. Therefore, always store only a small amount of Bitcoins on your “hot wallet”, this lowers the risk. Use cold wallets (USB sticks) for longer-term storage of larger amounts of Bitcoins.
Werner Bareis, an advisor for financial investments and retirement provisions at the Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Württemberg, warns tagesschau.de: “The blockchain may be secure. However, hackers have already stolen Bitcoins from wallets,” he says. Especially with “hot wallets” and on trading platforms, there have been numerous such attacks in the past.
Volatility affects value
An additional danger is the volatility of the currency: if the value of the Bitcoin decreases for a short time, more Bitcoins are needed accordingly for payments. Consumer protectionist Bareis says: “As long as these fluctuations are so massive, it’s hard to imagine Bitcoin becoming established as a common means of payment in the next few years.”
Paying locally with Bitcoin
Regardless, more and more cities around the world have stores that accept payment with Bitcoin. In Europe, for example in Germany and Switzerland, however, these offers are still manageable. In Berlin, there is the so-called “Bitcoinkiez”. This is a district in which payment with Bitcoin is already quite widespread. The payment process usually takes place via a QR code that is scanned with the camera of the smartphone. Via this code, the payment is forwarded to the recipient and the corresponding invoice is issued.
Switzerland: 125 ATMs and tellers
According to the ATM map to Zurich, you can, for example, pay with cryptos such as Litecoin, Ethereum or Bitcoin in the Dolder Hotel, in the Manor shopping center, in the Hilton Hotel or in computer stores or obtain them. Total at 38 locations. Crypto ATMs and payment options in Lucerne are only available in two places: the Manor shopping center and a cafe bar. There are 125 crypto ATMs and payment options throughout Switzerland, as this overview shows.
Germany: 59 ATMs and tellers
According to the ATM map to Frankfurt, you can, for example, pay with cryptos such as Litecoin, Ethereum or Bitcoin at a kiosk, in a drinks market and in a travel agency or withdraw them. Total at 6 locations. Crypto ATMs and payment options in Düsseldorf are available at a market hall, a laundromat and several kiosks. There are 59 crypto ATMs and payment options across Germany, as this map with the overview shows.
Austria: 157 ATMs and tellers
According to the ATM map to Innsbruck, cryptos such as Litecoin, Ethereum or Bitcoin can be obtained or paid with at the post office, a telecom store, Shell gas stations and restaurants, for example. Crypto ATMs and payment options in Vienna are available at a driving school, a barbershop, gyms and hotels. The capital of Austria currently has 65 hot spots. Crypto ATMs and payment options across Austria number 157, as this overview shows.
Vending machines for cryptocurrencies worldwide
Number ATMs worldwide
Paying with Bitcoin in an online store
Online stores that accept payment by bitcoin display this during the payment process. In addition to credit card payment, direct debit and payment with PayPal, customers can also select bitcoin payment as an option. In some cases, the QR code is also used here. The payment is then again processed via the cell phone. Sometimes the coin address of the online checkout is also available, which the customer can copy into their own wallet. Or the Wallet app opens directly during the payment process.
Which online providers accept payment with Bitcoin?
Well-known companies have already adapted to the payment option via Bitcoin. These include:
- Various airlines.
With the cryptocurrency to the tax office
In the meantime, public authorities are also happy to receive payments with the cryptocurrency in some places. For example, the canton of Zug in Switzerland, where Crypto Valley is located. Thanks to a collaboration with Bitcoin Suisse, tax debts here can also be paid by Bitcoin or Ether from 2021. Payment with the cryptocurrency can be made by both private individuals and companies. The required QR code can be requested directly from the tax administration.
Paying with the Bitcoin credit cardBitcoin credit cards are now also offered by various service providers. Mostly, this is done in cooperation with the Visa or Master Card. With some offers, the credit card itself becomes the wallet. Basically, a Bitcoin credit card can be compared to an ordinary credit card, which, however, also supports the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. If this credit card is loaded with Bitcoins, it can always be used as a means of payment wherever Bitcoin is also permitted for payment. Two concepts of Bitcoin credit cards can be distinguished from each other: The Bitcoin prepaid card as well as the Bitcoin wallet card. Consumers can load the Bitcoin prepaid card with Bitcoins. During the payment process, the system exchanges the coins into the corresponding currency. The Bitcoin wallet card is to be understood as a digital wallet. Here, it loads the crypo coins directly as tokens onto the credit card and stores them.
Lack of acceptance towards bitcoin payment
Why are businesses still hesitant to accept bitcoin payments? There are several reasons:
- Significant price fluctuations can affect cryptocurrency. The coins suddenly have less value.
- With the bankless currency, there is no central bank to back the means of payment. Bitcoins face the full wind of the market – price fluctuations are the result.
As a consumer or entrepreneur, accepting cryptocurrencies as a means of payment means taking some risk. What I take in today as an entrepreneur may not be worth much tomorrow. There is a threat of losses. But profits may also beckon. But not every entrepreneur is a speculator. One wants to be sure that yesterday’s income will still be worth just as much the next day. The skepticism of the new payment option “cryptocurrency” will therefore remain for the time being.