Square Marketplace, an online storefront that includes items from merchants around the world, now accepts Bitcoin as payment for every transaction. And unlike eBay and other online storefronts that don’t accept Bitcoin, the seller automatically gets the full amount of whatever they sold in U.S. dollars with no additional fees for either the seller or buyer. The fact that there are no additional fees for either party will be very attractive and should help Square Marketplace grow while furthering the wide-scale use of Bitcoin as a alternative payment form to cash, credit, and debit cards.
For those who have not been keeping up with the latest currency trends, Bitcoin is a virtual and digital version of cash that is emerging as a global payment platform and that can be used through smart phones, tablets, and other devices. Bitcoin, which is a product of open source intelligence using peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks, has the potential to change how millions of people around the world conduct their business.
Before the Square announcement, Bitcoin was already finding many places where it could be used as a payment option. For example, are you looking to buy some tickets to a Sacramento Kings game? You can buy them with Bitcoin. Ready to reserve your seat on Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight to space? They accept Bitcoin. How about pay your tuition to St. George’s University of London? Bitcoin is legal tender there too. In fact, the first day Bitcoin launched, sales totaled $126,000 (U.S.). Even Amazon and Google are considering adding Bitcoin as a payment option.
The Bank Security Act regulations in this case are intended to prevent transactions through anonymous accounts—think money laundering. However, the Bank Security Act does allow users of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin to buy and sell goods and services. Recently, officials within the United States Treasury and Justice Departments have now recognized the virtual currency as legitimate and financially viable. However, the U.S. government is not accepting Bitcoin for tax or other payments. To solve that problem, a company called SnapCard has come up with a payment system where Bitcoins can be used to pay the IRS.
What makes Bitcoin unique is that there’s a record as to who possesses it, and there’s a network that records transactions. Additionally, there is no way to increase the number of Bitcoins in existence, which is not the case in other currencies, like the U.S. currency, which the treasury can just print more if needed.
The value of a Bitcoin does fluctuate with the markets. So if you’re thinking of investing in Bitcoins, you want to do the same thing you do with a stock, which is to buy low and sell high. But remember, all currencies fluctuate in value on a daily basis, so that’s not unique to Bitcoin.
A key breakthrough with the use of Bitcoin will be if and when traditional banks decide to accept it. While traditional banks continue to evaluate Bitcoin, Square has decided that Bitcoin is ready for prime time and, with the help of Coinbase, a Bitcoin digital wallet, this may be what is needed for Amazon and others to jump in as well.
Will Bitcoin be around for a long time? That’s hard to say because Bitcoin’s future represents a soft trend—it is not a sure thing. But the idea of a digital virtual currency that is the closest thing to cash becoming part of our everyday reality in the near future represents a Hard TrendTM—it will happen. If Bitcoin goes away for some reason, another version of digital cash will take its place.
So the next time you’re ready to make a purchase online, don’t be surprised if you see a Bitcoin option for payment. Digital currency as a long-term Hard Trend is a game changer and thanks to the introduction of Bitcoin, the trend is now in motion.