When was the last time that you tried to purchase something with your Bitcoins? No, you say? We have certainly forgotten that BTC started out as a new form of legal tender to be used at the point-of-sale. When volatility became a major issue and speculation mania overtook the investing public in 2017, the mainstream of those in the know regarding cryptocurrencies slowly forgot about Bitcoin usage, either on or offline. The fact of the matter is that the number of merchants in the network keeps growing.
The 15,558 figure may sound and look de minimis, but the growth is evident by the slope from year to year. BitPay, the Bitcoin merchant processor in the U.S. has not changed its initial terms since its founding in 2011. The merchant discount is still 1%. The number of businesses accepting Bitcoin in the chart above is global, and for merchants, unlike with credit cards, there are no chargebacks.
The general perception among the Bitcoin faithful is that the more Bitcoin is used at the point-of-sale or online, the greater the spread of awareness amongst the public at large. In some respects, the volatility of BTC has diminished over time, as many suspected that it would, but when it does occur, it is typically “explosive”. The feeling, however, that, as Bitcoin matures and institutional investors participate in the market to solidify price discovery, then volatility will lessen, and Bitcoin will once again become a true asset class and a known vehicle for the exchange of value in daily commerce.
For the time being, Bitcoin retail adoption keeps growing. The U.S. and Europe continue to lead the pack, but recent data demonstrates that activity is spreading across continents and congregating around major cities. According to reporters at NewsBTC: “Adoption of #blockchain by retail businesses is booming. Coffee shops, hotels, IT services, and even tattoo parlors are beginning to accept crypto payments. A service providing information about retail adoption shows that growth is occurring all over the globe. A heat map of crypto-friendly businesses by Cryptwerk breaks down the rising interest in the technology by continent.”
The rather crude map depicted above is the “heat map” constructed by Cryptwerk. With the exception of Antarctica, every continent is “in the game”, so to speak. South and Central America might seem to be surprises, but fiat currencies have come under pressure as the global economy has slowed. India is waiting for its Supreme Court to rule on whether a crypto ban will continue, but from the looks of the heat map, there are hotbeds of activity in its major cities.
NewsBTC highlights Africa: “Africa, one of the parts of the globe starting to become more associated with cryptocurrency adoption, is also seeing increases in the number of businesses accepting digital assets. NewsBTC has previously reported on the likes of South Africa and Nigeria being hubs for crypto acceptance. Africa as a continent suffers particularly from some of the issues that Bitcoin reportedly addresses. These include corruption, high inflation, and a lack of banking facilities. Whilst not necessarily surprising, it is encouraging to see the growth of acceptance in African states.”
Time will tell if acceptance will continue to expand over time, but age demographics may also come into play over the next decade. Like the Internet and smart phones, youth will be served, especially by revolutionary digital payment instruments. The future is in their hands, but the more usage, the more awareness, and the more awareness, the greater the demand for Bitcoin in the future. Bitcoin advocates would add that more demand also equates to a larger valuation, which is a good thing, too.