Cryptocurrencies have been rapidly gaining popularity as a long-term investment option and a means of trading over recent years, and as the momentum surrounding it continues to build, many industries are now beginning to accept the likes of Bitcoin and its competitors as a form of payment.
For over a decade, Bitcoin has been making waves in the investment world, making multiple overnight millennial millionaires in its early days and becoming more and more highly sought-after by the day ever since. This year, its value climbed to a record high of $64,863, and although the effects of market volatility have seen it plummet to $44,274 since then, experts predict that it’s set to reach even loftier heights over the coming months and years.
Bitcoin’s basis is blockchain technology, a digital ledger that can record and verify a large number of digital transactions. Although Bitcoin’s prominence helped to illustrate blockchain’s potential in the world of banking, entrepreneurs and experts across the board believe that the technology has the potential to change many sectors, with an influence expanding far beyond banking alone. The applications for a transparent, verifiable register of transaction data are almost limitless, especially because blockchains function on a decentralised platform that does not require intermediaries. Essentially, this makes fraud almost impossible – an exciting development that simply can’t be ignored.
The full scale and method of how it could be adopted remains to be seen, but it has been a hot topic surrounding Bitcoin throughout this year. As the world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin’s adoption rate continues to increase, and we’ve already seen an exciting number of ‘firsts’.
Foodler – The first food ordering service to accept Bitcoin
In 2013, the online food ordering service announced that it had begun to accept bitcoin payments. At the time, this was a remarkable development, with the cryptocurrency still considered very niche and surrounded by much scepticism from nay-sayers.
But according to Christian Dumontet, Foodler’s co-founder, monthly payments increased by 30 percent as a result, with an average of 9 BTC placed in Foodler accounts each day since the company began accepting Bitcoin. Dumontet said at the time that he had read about Bitcoin and wanted to try it out, despite not being a Bitcoin investor (at that time) – and despite being considered a risky and somewhat unnecessary move by some, it certainly paid off.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) – The first British charity to accept Bitcoin
Becoming the UK’s first large charity to begin accepting bitcoin payments in 2014, the RNLI is also one of the country’s oldest charities, established all the way back in 1824. According to the charity’s website, it opted to accept Bitcoin donations directly as a test method and will consider incorporating Bitcoin into its normal contribution sites as the infrastructure and suppliers in the Bitcoin industry develop, and provided there is demand. For charities who often benefit from wealthy philanthropists, it’s a wise move, and has made the process of receiving large donations smoother and easier for its biggest financial supporters.
Vetco – The first vet clinic to accept Bitcoin
Vetco, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based veterinary clinic, became the first in the United States to accept Bitcoin for veterinary services in 2013. The new payment method received good feedback from their customers, as paying in Bitcoin and scanning the QR code made getting veterinary care easier for them – and it continues to be a roaring success until today.
Barclays – The first bank to accept Bitcoin
The British financial giant Barclays is no stranger to digital money and blockchain technologies. The bank, which is recognised for encouraging and collaborating with cutting-edge innovations, announced its collaboration with Circle, a Bitcoin social payments platform, back in 2015, allowing the company to provide Sterling and Euro functionality to its bitcoin-based social payment software as a result of the cooperation. Money sent through Circle is first converted to Bitcoin before being sent over the Bitcoin network, and the move has seen other banks look to follow suit.
airBaltic – The first airline to accept Bitcoin
In 2014, the Latvian airline became the first in the world to accept Bitcoin as payment for tickets to 60 locations in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States. As a result, airBaltic is ranked amongst ten of the most innovative airlines in the world, with the introduction of Bitcoin as a payment option forming part of its creative approach to service, which places a strong emphasis on its customers and their needs.
London Theatre Direct – The first theatre ticket agency to accept Bitcoin
The agency partnered with BitPay to accept more alternative currencies in a revolutionary move that would set it well apart from the competition. At that time, Theatreland was a little slower to adopt modern technology than some, but nevertheless, the agency worked hard for years to set an example for the industry by experimenting with these new technologies.
Robocoin – The first Bitcoin ATM
In 2013 in Vancouver, Canada, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM opened, allowing customers to swap their digital currency credits for cash and vice versa. Unlike other ATMs, Robocoin is unique. Debit or credit cards are not accepted – users simply deposit their money and are provided with numbers – addresses that connect to bitcoins. Those who already have bitcoin they wish to withdraw may have the machine scan a QR code on their phone before doling out their cash.
In 2015, however, Robocoin discontinued operations. The first Bitcoin ATM in Europe was established in Bratislava, Slovakia, on December 8, 2013. On February 18, 2014, the first machine in the United States went live in a cigar bar in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After 30 days, it was uninstalled.
El Salvador – The first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender
This year, El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as legal currency after Congress accepted President Nayib Bukele’s request to do so in June. This, of course, greatly pleased Bitcoin enthusiasts, and Bukele has since praised the usage of bitcoin for its potential to aid Salvadorians working abroad in sending remittances home. Nevertheless, he has also made clear that the US dollar will remain legal currency in the nation. In fact, El Salvador does not have a currency of its own.
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