Spending crypto: Which top companies accept cryptocurrency?
Major corporations might be slow on the uptake, but crypto payments are increasing in popularity
- Musk’s meme coin romance
- Videogames: Cautious for now
- In-store payments: US leads where others lag
- The travel sector: Showing signs of growth
- Travala: The crypto-friendly Trivago killer?
- Can you buy insurance with crypto?
- Where else can I spend my crypto online?
With its sights set on wresting control over the Gen Z and millennial age demographics, multinational e-commerce giant eBay recently dropped hints that it may soon begin accepting crypto payments on its multibillion-dollar global marketplace. Such a development would be a first for the e-commerce sector, which is seriously lacking in companies that accept cryptocurrency.
On the consumer front, research conducted by Visa’s Global Crypto & Fintech Group suggested that among crypto-aware consumers, 48% are currently either unengaged with or sceptical regarding digital currencies, compared to only 21% who are actively using digital currency either to buy goods and services, or to send and receive money.
But while cryptocurrency might still be met with a fair share of scepticism among the general public and large-cap business segment, the amount of vendors accepting crypto as a payment option is rising. A January 2022 survey commissioned by Visa showed that 24% of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) plan on accepting crypto as a payment option, predominantly bitcoin, in the near future.
Furthermore, Visa’s research suggested that “while most crypto-aware consumers view cryptocurrency as a wealth-building asset, many believe that within the next five years it will have permeated most types of transactions.” Visa referred specifically to the purchase of everyday goods and services, as well as domestic and international transfers to friends and family.
SMBs aside, what are some major companies that accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? How and where can you pay with crypto, and will companies that accept crypto become commonplace? Let’s find out.
Musk’s meme coin romance
Lord and saviour to some, villainous union-buster to others, Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk is one of the few individuals with the power to manipulate both traditional stock markets and cryptocurrency prices with a single tweet.
Following his announcement in January 2022 that his electric vehicle corporation will accept dogecoin as payment on certain product lines, the one-time meme coin cum multibillion-dollar household name enjoyed a steep, if short-lived, jump in value. Musk has since announced further support for dogecoin (DOGE), with Tesla chargers in the Santa Monica area now accepting payments in DOGE.
Ever the DOGE champion, Musk previously announced his intention to launch DOGE-1, a satellite payload funded entirely by DOGE, into space at some point in 2022. Musk’s love affair with DOGE stems in part from his disillusionment with bitcoin, owing to its energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) mining method.
As reported by Currency.com, customers should be aware that any DOGE payments made to Tesla are non-refundable.
Videogames: Cautious for now
When it comes to companies that accept crypto, Microsoft was one of the first. Despite this fact, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has long been a bitcoin sceptic, even telling CNBC that “I would short bitcoin if I could,” in May 2018.
For the uninitiated, “shorting” refers to betting that a commodity or stock will fall in value. Gates reaffirmed his scepticism in 2021, stating his preference for companies “that make products,” particularly vaccines and malaria treatments.
Regardless of Gates’s opinion, Microsoft has been allowing users to top up their Microsoft accounts with bitcoin since as far back as 2014. And while the Xbox Games Store may not currently support crypto payments, the corporation has flirted with the idea in the past.
Are there other companies that accept cryptocurrency in the videogames sector? For the meantime, the sector remains cautious. This could be due to Steam’s ill-fated foray into bitcoin, which lasted 18 months before Steam removed the payment option, after realising that “50% of transactions were fraudulent,” according to company president Gabe Newell.
In-store payments: US leads where others lag
Back in August 2021, it was reported that leading US cinema chain AMC, subject of the infamous meme stock trend alongside Gamestop, planned to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at venues across the country.
“AMC is hereby formally announcing... that by year’s end we will have the information technology systems in place to accept bitcoin,” said chief executive officer Adam Aron. By November, that promise became a reality, not just for bitcoin investors, but fpr ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC) holders too.
US retail is one sector that has witnessed a boom in crypto payments. AMC aside, bricks-and-mortar companies that accept bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, at least in selected outlets, include Home Depot, Whole Foods, Quiznos and Subway. Starbucks allows caffeine fiends to top up their Starbucks app with bitcoin, too.
Retail sectors outside of the US have been less enthusiastic regarding crypto adoption. You’ll be hard pressed to spend your bitcoins in-person anywhere in the United Kingdom and Channel Islands, except in a few niche bars and pubs. Oh, and at Sotheby’s.
The European Union is similarly hesitant, if the adoption rates for crypto ATMs are anything to go by. The US alone accounts for 88% of all crypto ATMs globally, followed by Canada with 6.3%. Europe houses only 3.9% of all crypto ATMs, over half of which are in Spain alone. There are currently 79 crypto ATMs in the United Kingdom, compared to 31,846 in the US.
Crypto ATMs might not be the clearest measurement of the retail sector’s sentiment towards crypto payments, but coupled with the scarcity of bricks-and-mortar crypto merchants, it shows how far behind Europe is compared to the US.
The travel sector: Showing signs of growth
A look into which companies accept cryptocurrency in the travel sector reveals some big-ticket names.
Notably, multinational group The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts accepts a host of cryptocurrencies, including big-hitters like bitcoin, ETH and DOGE, as well as more niche tokens such as EOS and STORJ. In total, 37 cryptocurrencies can be used to make bookings across the chain’s European and Asian locations.
In 2014, airBaltic became the first European carrier to accept bitcoin as a payment option, later adding BCH, ETH, DOGE, plus a range of stablecoins. Following in airBaltic’s footsteps, LOT Polish Airlines and Air Lituanica added bitcoin support in the following year.
Through a partnership with bitpay, the airline-owned global payment network Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP) is spearheading a major initiative to increase the amount of companies that accept cryptocurrency in the air travel sector. But despite UATP having Aeromexico, Airplus International (British Airways and Lufthansa), APG Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, American Airlines and other major carriers as members, uptake remains low.
Travala: The crypto-friendly Trivago killer?
Rather than seeking out individual travel companies, Travala is a price comparison website which prides itself “on being the leading cryptocurrency-friendly accommodation booking platform”. Over 2.2 million hotels and accommodations can be booked using over 80 cryptocurrencies, including Travala’s own AVA token.
Travala’s February 2022 business report showed 374% year-on-year growth, with monthly revenues in excess of $5m. 78% of all bookings in February were paid with cryptocurrencies, primarily AVA, binance pay, BUSD, BTC and ETH.
Travala could be well placed to benefit from consumers’ pivot towards crypto payments in the travel sector. In an April 2021 poll, the company reported that 22% of globetrotters want to use cryptocurrencies to pay for their future travels.
Although Travala might be among the biggest online booking companies that accepts cryptocurrency, it certainly was not the first. Way back in 2014, Expedia started accepting bitcoin for hotel payments through a partnership with Coinbase. The venture would not last, however: Expedia scrapped bitcoin in 2018, purportedly due to volatility and lack of commercial interest.
Earlier still was Cheapair, which continues to accept BTC, BCH, ETH, DOGE and numerous other digital currencies after first accepting bitcoin in 2013.
Can you buy insurance with crypto?
The insurance sector continues to preference fiat over crypto, with one major exception. In April 2021, AXA Insurance announced that its Swiss arm would begin accepting bitcoin for all non-life insurance products, in order to “meet growing demand”.
As of yet, Switzerland remains the only bitcoin-ready jurisdiction in AXA’s global network, while life insurance is not available due to regulatory constraints. No other multinational insurance corporations have made a foray into crypto payments. In fact, AXA itself holds no bitcoin on its ledger; all bitcoin payments are converted to fiat.
Where else can I spend my crypto online?
While this article outlines some of the largest companies that accept crypto, it barely scratches the surface of where you can spend your coins. An up-to-date list of merchants accepting bitcoin and other crypto, from small online stores to large corporations, can be found at Bitcoin’s official merchant list.
For the latest news on the world of crypto payments, be sure to stay tuned to Currency.com.
Thousands of online companies accept bitcoin, although a specific number is hard to ascertain. Bitcoin’s official merchant list keeps running tabs, and so is a good starting point for finding vendors.
Amazon does not currently accept cryptocurrency as a payment option.
Tesla accepts dogecoin (DOGE) as a payment option on certain product lines. Although its electric cars cannot be purchased with crypto, dogecoin can be used to buy merchandise and certain charging locations also accept DOGE.