In an emerging space for bitcoin, it’s essential to know the facts about bitcoin and the merchants who take it. The other day I was reading through Twitter while trying to steer my mind away from gun-control and other gun issues to see what the pulse is in the world of Bitcoin. I have always been a firm believer in diversifying your methods of utilizing bitcoin as you should with any other asset. One thing that seems to be a topic of division is “hodl” vs. circulation of Bitcoin in markets. On the one hand, you have the “hodlers” that preach about stacking sats and virtually hoarding as much bitcoin as possible while, on the other hand, you have proponents of using bitcoin as a very liquid currency and means of frequent trade for goods and services. I often ask myself, “why not both?”
I have a paper wallet that I throw satoshis into every so often to hodl. I also regularly pay for products here and there with bitcoin to encourage the use of it in an economy of scale. Bitcoin has a high learning curve for the layman, so I insist that we, as the patrons and ambassadors of Bitcoin, must continue to spread the gospel through many channels. Showing people how Bitcoin works allows faster adoption rates. After all, more people seem to want to spend than to save anyway. Why not teach them the ropes of both hodling and expenditure rather than forcing their hands to do something uncomfortable or risky? It’s my pleasure to share with you a handful of products and services that I have paid for with Bitcoin. I intend to bring these to you as I find them regularly.
Let’s paint this one as a great idea with lots of potential despite some setbacks. I have only used Purse.io twice now, and there are some caveats you probably need to know going forward. Purse.io is a way to trade Amazon Gift Cards, credit card points, and other Amazon friendly credits for Bitcoin. The way it works is as follows. As a shopper looking to buy products using Bitcoin, I can search on Purse.io and find items I want to buy. I can also import Amazon wish lists to get a perfect match of products I want to buy using Purse.io. I make my selections, add them to my cart, and then I can choose to take the quick 5% discount or name my price up to 15% off. Expedience versus patience begins to take the stage. I tried buying a large ticket item with a gross total of around $900 and name my discount at the max 15% allowed for new users. While it seems very easy to do, what you have to realize is that a Bitcoin earner on the other end of the transaction has to fulfill a $900 order using gift cards, points, cash, etc. The amount needed and the time it would take to satisfy the request estimated at 3-5 days.
The problem after I chatted with support is that my purchase was a bit much for even their best earners to fulfill. On top of that, the local taxes are not factored into the gross total, so once I did have an earner ready, I was informed that the price didn’t include Arkansas sales tax, so I needed to put a few more satoshis on the purchase to continue. I did do that only to realize that the order would be re-opened for earners to purchase. Being my first time, it was a bit jarring, and I had to tally up the cost on Amazon to see if I was still at a discount. It turns out, even adding the BTC for shipping costs, I was always under Amazon’s cash prices, but I was waiting for another earner to pick up the tab and send my products, and it was retaking a while. It was at this time I decided to cancel the order and start over with a smaller purchase.
This time around, I went for the default 5% discount with fulfillment through Purse.io. It was swift. I ordered about $50 in merchandise on Saturday, January 18th, and it was at my doorstep on Monday, January 21st. I did add a few extra dollars to cover tax to avoid that setback again. I was over the cost by a few dollars, and those satoshis were returned after the order was processed. In the end, purse.io was a positive experience, but it did take some patience. If you are interested in using it, please use my affiliate link to join. It helps me cover the costs of hosting and blogging.
When I decided to do this article, I floated the idea on Twitter. In no time at all, I was greeted and encouraged by Ragnar Lifthrasir of Guns ‘N’ Bitcoin and given a directory of over 100 BTCPay powered e-commerce websites. The list is solid. It’s filled with everything from hard goods to VPN services. I haven’t had the time to review any vendor in particular, but I look forward to springing forward from the list and doing more articles on BTCPay merchants. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, BTCPay is an opensource self-hosted Bitcoin payment processor. According to its website, it is censorship-free, secure, and private.
I haven’t personally done any development work with BTCPay, but I became familiar with it in 2018 when Shopify began their de-platforming campaign against Cody Wilson and DefenseDistributed. At the time, I provided consultation and some WooCommerce website design to get https://ghostgunner.net back up and running independently of Shopify. The BTCPayServer was already running, so I didn’t do much hands-on work with it. I worked with a handful of other web developers to get the site running within days of the shutdown by Shopify.
Private Internet Access
I have been using this VPN for over three years now and have had good luck with high speeds and low latency. I love that you can use Bitcoin to purchase a month, three months, six months, or a year of service. They’re pretty solid as far as VPN’s go and handle all types of devices from Linux to Windows, OpenVPN Clients, iOS, Android, and more. If you’re looking for a no-frills but reliable VPN, take a look at PIA. Trust me that doesn’t stand for “pain in the ass.” You can even help support my efforts by following my referral link. I am not sure what all the perks are, but anything helps.
MEGA.nz Cloud Storage
I use Mega quite often to store documents temporarily and sometimes as a backup to other cloud storage systems like Google Drive. Because I continuously battle between the front end web design world and also the secure and private online worlds, I find myself needing different tools for different jobs. Mega works to scratch my itch when it comes to encrypted storage, but I must implore that you do not advertise your downloads publicly. Regardless of the content in your Mega account, there are terms of service that apply in New Zealand, and Mega does actively take down accounts that break those terms even if the content is legal in your country. I have no issues with Mega and have been using it for years. Still, I do see links taken down from social media, primarily if they knowingly distribute content that Mega.nz construed as violating their terms or is downright illegal.
Note: Remember folks, even as encrypted and secure as these cloud services claim to be, they are someone else’s computers. Never store sensitive material such as personal info, bitcoin keys, or illegal content on these services.
Other Bitcoin Merchants?
As I continue my exploration of Bitcoin and all the vast options it brings, I will probably jog my memory and list another service for you to try out. Do you have something I may have missed? Please let me know. I would love to try it out.