Every couple weeks a new group of mainstream merchants and payments providers begins accepting Bitcoin, the popular and often controversial digital currency.
Bitcoin's growing acceptance is in stark contrast to last year, when it seemed regulators might stifle the digital currency, which was still used primarily by niche companies. In 2014, Bitcoin is already seeing more positive news about acceptance.
Even the New York Department of Financial Services' recent regulatory discussions had a positive tone, as the state says it is trying to better understand how to regulate Bitcoin businesses to encourage them to operate.
Here are some more companies providing ways for merchants and consumer alike to use Bitcoin.
POS providers. Bitcoin has begun to attract large companies who need more functionality when dealing with high volume. Seeing this increased popularity, point of sale providers are integrating Bitcoin within their systems. New West Technologies has added Bitcoin acceptance into its Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System with the help of BitPay. SoftTouch POS, which focuses its technology on the restaurant industry, integrated Bitcoin last year.
Indirect acceptance. Starbucks, which continues to tout its successful mobile wallet, even reshuffling top execs to focus on mobile payment initiatives, has been an attractive merchant for the Bitcoin community to bring into the cult. In late January, Card for Coin announced it would buy Starbucks gift cards in exchange for bitcoins with a 30% to 40% fee. Seems steep! But it only took a week for the company to shutter operations "while we sort out some regulatory issues," according to the company's website.
CheapAir. While other smaller travel agency have started accepting Bitcoin, CheapAir is a well-known agency that started accepting the digital currency for flight bookings in November. The company recently announced it would accept bitcoins for hotel bookings as well, opening up more than 200,000 hotels to the cyrptocurrency community.
- Vera&John. Bitcoin isn't just a gamble because of its wild price fluctuations anymore. Vera&John became the first regulated and licensed online casino to accept Bitcoin through Coinapult, a Bitcoin processor. The casino will accept Bitcoin for its entire spectrum of more than 200 slot games. The company will accept bitcoin deposits and immediately exchange them into Euros. Bitcoin users can withdraw funds in bitcoins only.
Two casinos in Las VegasThe D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casinobegan accepting the popular digital currency this year, but not yet on the gaming floor. Instead patrons can use Bitcoin for purchases at the casinos' front desk, gift shops and restaurants.
And for your daily dose of "Why didn't I think of that sooner?" Niko Younts, Bitcoin enthusiast and domain speculator, recently sold the domain BitcoinWallet.com for $250,000. And, Younts says, the sale of BitcoinWallets.com is pending at $200,000.