Bitcoins Continue to Gain Traction
For those of you not sleeping at the wheel, Bitcoin has been shaking the foundations of the financial world the same way the internet shook the foundations of traditional copyright laws. An interesting phenomenon that started out much like the internet, few even considered the currency as more than a black market fad. That is, until people who had bought such small sums as, say $24, found themselves suddenly worth more than half a million dollars (source: The Guardian). Now the currency is rapidly gaining traction, with an ever expanding list of establishments accepting it as a form of payment.
In fact, the number of places willing to accept Bitcoins might come as a surprise, particularly if you’re conservative, or have avoided the currency. The eight examples below are just a few ways you can spend them.
Banking: The Swedish exchange company Safello has installed the first Bitcoin ATM. The unit is powered by a Google Nexus tablet, and works a lot like a traditional ATM. Of course, that’s one line you’re not likely going to want to be standing in when Bitcoin values are jumping up or down.
Dating: If you’re lonely, and the type to sit home, trading Bitcoins and writing financial articles, then you’ll be pleased to learn that you can spend some of those hard earned Bitcoins at OK Cupid, the best dating site on earth (not that I would know from personal experience).
Footwear: Need some new shoes, but don’t know how to turn your Bitcoins into cash? No problem, the folks over at Heat Slingers will put you in a nice pair of shoes for a few Bitcoins.
Gambling: The oldest casino in Las Vegas, the Golden Gate, has begun accepting Bitcons at the hotel’s front desks, gift shop, and Italian restaurant.
Malls: No, seriously – shopping malls. If you are all about shopping, and have a pile of Bitcoins – well, a virtual pile anyway, you can head out to your local shopping mall to spend them, thanks to a new service the good folks at CNN made us aware of.
Precious Metals: The world of precious metals trading is usually limited to hard currency, but Amagi Metals is literally letting people trade their Bitcoins for real gold.
Sports: The Sacramento Kings, considered by some to be the most technologically advanced professional sports team on the planet, are now accepting Bitcoins for the purchase fan merchandise, tickets.
Worldwide: While there are many countries opposed to the adoption and use of Bitcoins, there are at least eight heavyweights that are in favor of them – or at least taxing them, as reported by Ofir Beigel of 99Bitcoins. Here’s a summary of those in favor.
- America is filled with greedy capitalists, and the recent closure of the Silk Road and the D.P.R. millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins are sitting the the hands of the Fed. The fact that they’re even considering liquidating them means that the currency is almost as good as legitimized.
- Australia is cool with Bitcoins, because hey mate, they can tax them! Technically that’s good news for Bitcoin owners, because taxation legitimizes their use.
- Belgium has no problem with Bitcoins, and to date their money laundering agencies haven’t made a fuss either.
- Canada views transactions made with Bitcoins as barter transactions, which gains subject to tax. Nothing wrong with barter, so they’re more or less in the clear.
- Finland was, as we mentioned earlier, is the first country in Europe to have a Bitcoin ATM. While it’s a currently up in the air as to whether this will be the wave of the future of just a novelty item, for now it’s an outstanding marketing experiment if nothing else.
- Germany basically views Bitcoins as a trade instrument. That affords it significant legal protection, and also further legitimizes it due to the fact that gains will be taxable.
- Netherlands users of Bitcoins will find that they’re completely legal. This of course means that they’re also taxable, because someone has to pay the salaries of the people who get to decide whether or not you’re allowed to spend your money.
- Singapore has three little monkeys in the government. Not surprisingly, they see no, hear no, and purportedly also do no Bitcoin trading. In other words, it’s a little like Fight Club. The most important rule of Bitcoin trading is that we don’t talk about it, at least not in Singapore where the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has decided not to interfere in Bitcoin trading.
The thing is – Bitcoins are not stable, but then few things in financial markets are. Knowing what you’re investing in is just as important as knowing how to invest. While much of this article was done in satire, it’s based on facts. Understanding those facts, and the inherent value of any form of currency can’t be overstated. If you’re going to invest in Bitcoins – or anything else for that matter, keep in mind that there absolutely are risks. Because Bitcoins are a unique form of currency, the associated risks are also somewhat unique. Stay tuned for an article on that topic next week, and check out this article if you want to earn some free Bitcoins (tested and confirmed by me).
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