Every now and then it looks like a given industry or major company might just help bitcoin take off as a functioning currency. Yet one by one, they seem to let crypto enthusiasts down. That doesn’t mean bitcoin doesn’t have its functional uses of course. We know that there are businesses here and there – some of them quite large – that do accept crypto payments. For the most part though, the areas with the most potential have consistently disappointed those who would like to see bitcoin more widely used.
Right now, these are some of the industries we thought were promising, but are beginning to appear less so.
Travel comes up surprisingly regularly when you look up where you might be able to spend bitcoin. CheapAir.com is probably the most high-profile name in this conversation, but even beyond this known name there are lots of travel sites that allow cryptocurrency payments. To an extent, this industry has been a bitcoin success. At the same time though, we really haven’t seen much progress. One or two travel sites have dropped bitcoin, and we have yet to see some of the most popular booking platforms (think Kayak) or airlines and hotel lines themselves adopting direct bitcoin payments. It could be that bitcoin has essentially capped out as a niche travel booking payment, when it looked briefly as if it could have been more.
The world of gaming has produced one of the bigger letdowns in bitcoin usage to date. Valve Corp’s Steam platform, which handles a staggering volume of video game downloads, excited the whole bitcoin community when it announced that it would be accepting payments. Not too long after that though, the same company halted this acceptance on the grounds that bitcoin had become too volatile. This may have kept bitcoin from becoming a legitimate mainstream option in an industry in which more and more purchasing is happening digitally. There are still some opportunities to use bitcoin to buy games, but it’s nothing like it could have been.
Online casinos are related to gaming, and here too there have been hints of bitcoin adoption that have simply fallen short of anything widespread or particularly significant. Online casino sites are now popular in much of the world, major hubs in Canada, the UK, and Australia, to name a few places. Accordingly there are hundreds if not thousands of popular sites offering digital versions of favorite casino games, and handling deposits via all sorts of payment methods. Bitcoin doesn’t really seem to be catching on though with anything but minor sites. PayPal has become a leader internationally; credit card processors are only getting better; Canada’s sites offer free games that some play just for fun without making deposits at all! There may just not be room for bitcoin in this space, despite some entry activity.
Fast food really isn’t the kind of industry you’d expect to see a high-tech digital currency takeover in, but a few restaurant chains actually got on board fairly early. Subway has been mentioned, for instance, as one of the popular companies that already accepts bitcoin. Even in the article acknowledging Subway’s participation though, it’s specifically noted that “very few Subways accept bitcoin.” This is accurate, and reveals that even though Subway got a lot of publicity for its decision, it really hasn’t provided that many opportunities for people to spend bitcoin in the course of their everyday lives. Meanwhile, not many other restaurants have joined in. It appears that initial excitement about fast food and fast-casual dining regarding Subway (as well as Domino’s) may have been misplaced.
We don’t really have major examples of significant retail tech companies that have flirted with bitcoin or accepted it at any point. Some bitcoin proponents, however, have held onto a vague expectation that surely technology companies would embrace a brand-new form of encrypted currency meant to change the future of payments. It’s not an illogical expectation, but it also doesn’t seem to be based on any tangible evidence. So it appears that here, too, bitcoin has been let down in a sense.