May 02, 2021

What Can You Buy With Bitcoin Now?

Now that Visa and Mastercard will be integrating BTC payment capability into their terminals we can safely say Bitcoin will be a full fledged payment instrument. But can you already live a fiat-free life right now?

Crypto is in a bull market both when it comes to prices and adoption. The vision of many of its proponents is it will displace fiat money as a carrier of value and means of payment. While this is still far away it is interesting to consider whether it would be possible for someone to lead a fiat-free life right now, using crypto to pay for all necessities.

Crypto payment means Bitcoin payment with the world‘s biggest cryptocurrency being the clear market leader in terms of payment adoption. While Ethereum is popular as well, two other cryptocurrencies which somewhat regulary feature alongside it are Dogecoin and Bitcoin Cash. While Dogecoin has the contemporary hype, the latter is a relic of times long gone and should exit the list before long.

So what are the Bitcoin payment hotspots right now? One obvious candidate is Nigeria, who has a solid lead on the Google Trends worldwide BTC popularity scale. Nigeria is one of the countries with unstable monetary systems, where the population looks to crypto as an anti-inflation tool. In fact there was a very interesting account by a traveller who survived six weeks in this country only having access to his Bitcoin wallet, as his bank cards were blocked. Purists would say it was not a pure crypto experience as he sometimes swapped it for local fiat currency, the Naira. Still making it through six weeks abroad with only crypto on hand is an admirable feat. Even more so it is a testament to human creativity, establishing a backup money market when the fiat currency is less than dependable.

Google Trends map for Bitcoin May 2020 - May 2021

Bitcoin being a backup currency is not a phenomenon reserved to developing countries. For any person stuck in a foreign country due to immigration laws or covid a crypto account can be an efficient method to circumvent capital controls and get access to necessary funds. Many countries have two-way ATMs enabling easy swaps of Bitcoin against fiat money. Such machines charge hefty fees but enable you to subsist on crypto if necessary.

What about direct Bitcoin payments? They are nothing new, in fact a cafe in Prague where no fiat money is accepted exists since 2014. As of now most basic needs can be taken care of directly with crypto payments. You can eat - there is an online food delivery service in practically every developed country with accepts Bitcoin. You can buy clothing or pretty much anything else online with BTC. With PayPal having introduced crypto payments for US customers we can reasonably expect online crypto payment capability to become a must have before long. You can also grab a coffee or find a place to sleep with crypto, for instance using this useful map

The weak link remain public services. While there exist local governments which accept BTC payments, authorities remain more adept in confiscating and auctioning off crypto than accepting it. Some governments attempt outright crypto bans, which usually lead to widespread public outcry. A regretfully more prevalent approach is to ban crypto payments, obstructing the onslaught of the crypto economy.

So while a pure crypto lifestyle is for now still not fully possible, subsisting with Bitcoin as a source of funds is relatively straightforward. One must remember however that crypto payments are most prevalent in cities. A crypto countryside life would be a bigger challenge. At least until Visa and Mastercard change the game later this year.