The holiday shopping season is upon us, and bitcoin users now have more opportunities than ever before to spend and earn their digital loot.
Many cryptocurrency exchanges slash rates and trading fees over the long Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. Plus, Binance US CEO Catherine Coley said the exchange’s referral program, for traders helping friends sign up, will double rewards to $30 per sign-up during the period.
It’s also a prime time to shop for hardware products. The crypto wallet-maker Ledger has a 30 percent off sale for all products sold through its website. The node issuer Casa is also offering $100 off lightning network nodes with a gold membership, roughly a 25 percent discount.
Yet there are still ways to earn and use bitcoin even when shopping for the nocoiners on your Christmas list – even beyond tech companies like Microsoft, which accept bitcoin directly.
Here are a few ways to shop like a bitcoiner:
1. Support small businesses
Several lingerie retailers, like Kala, and boutique butchers, like Primal Pastures, accept bitcoin payments and ship nationwide.
The London-based book publisher Kiosk accepts bitcoin payments and runs its own full node via BTCPay. Since the publisher started accepting bitcoin in May 2019, roughly 15 customers have paid with crypto, said Kiosk founder Nick Greenbank.
“It has definitely helped expand my knowledge of Bitcoin, and my technical knowledge more generally,” Greenbank said of using BTCPay. “I know from personal experience that they are a very friendly bunch and are always more than happy to help you out if you get stuck with anything along the way.”
2. Shop with crypto using wallet apps
Thanks to a variety of crypto startups, it’s now relatively easy to spend bitcoin at mainstream retailers that don’t transact directly in digital currency.
Mobile apps like Fold and Flexa allow users to spend digital assets in brick-and-mortar stores.
The latter supports zcash, ether, litecoin and Gemini’s stablecoin GUSD as well, for shopping at retailers like Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Express, GameStop, Office Depot and Whole Foods.
3. Earn bitcoin while shopping with fiat
As for Fold, the payments startup offers credit card and bitcoin payment options, both of which earn shoppers modest bitcoin rewards. Of those purchases made so far, conducted by a few thousand users, roughly 30 percent paid with the app’s Lightning Network option. Fold can be used for purchases at Amazon, Starbucks and Target, among other brands, both in-person and online.
The invite-only beta app processed nearly $250,000 worth of payments since it started in October 2019, out of which 60 percent paid in fiat, Fold CEO Will Reeves said. The public mobile app launched on Monday.
Beyond Fold, there are also several other ways to earn cryptocurrency while spending fiat.
The in-browser Lolli app offers bitcoin rewards from brands like Sephora, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. By Cyber Monday (the first business day after Thanksgiving, when retailers encourage online shopping) the new rival Chrome extension StormShop will offer cash-back rewards in the form of ethereum-based stablecoin DAI. Simon Yu, CEO of StormX, the company behind StormShop, told CoinDesk that 5,000 people signed up for the app’s beta mailing list. Users will be able to cash out rewards in bitcoin, ether, DAI, or StormX’s native token.
As a bitcoiner who has worked in the industry since 2014, Yu said this year the market is ripe for cryptocurrency fans to earn or spend digital assets during the holiday shopping season. MakerDAO donated $10,000 in DAI to StormX so that Yu’s startup can distribute an extra $5 worth of rewards to the first 2,000 users who cash out in DAI.
“You’re seeing a lot of the brands shifting away from the in-store deals with people standing in line…to an online presence,” Yu said. “From a crypto perspective, so much has evolved in terms of product and user experience since we started.”