Well I’ve been “into” bitcoin for nearly a year and like most people I’ve simply been hoarding my coin. It’s time to start spending! I recently had the opportunity to register for Bitcoin2014 (come join me! http://bitcoin2014.com/) in Amsterdam and naturally since the option of paying via bitcoin was available I had to try it. I had never actually bought anything with bitcoin before so I was in virgin territory. The process was surprisingly simple, straightforward and painless, partially due to good web design and partially due to luck.
The bitcoin portion was run handled by bitpay and when I clicked to pay a “bitcoin:” URL was created and executed by starting up my wallet (a Multibit wallet) that happened to be on the computer I was using to register. Multibit asked for my wallet password (very reassuring) the payment was made and all was right with the world. No long delay it all worked fine.
A day or two later I decided to purchase a “Verso Card” (https://versocards.com) which is a cool hardware gadget about the size of a credit card that you can use as a cold storage wallet but with the convenience of an online wallet because you link it to an app on your phone. (I haven’t received it yet so can’t tell you if it works well or not.) Anyway I went through the usual purchase process and at the end it printed a bitcoin address and said please pay first before clicking button. So I had to manually go into my wallet put in the address and then wait for like 10-15 minutes for the transaction to be confirmed until I hit the button on the Verso card page. This is totally unreasonable for normal purchases. If I had hit the button the page said they would not mail the card, so I was warned but this is not a “ready for prime time” way of conducting business. I don’t know what the difference is between the bitpay managed purchase which happened instantly, and the Verso card purchase, both of which used my same bitcoin wallet. So that part will remain a mystery until I investigate some more.
Last but not least, I’ve been reading about Overstock.com accepting bitcoin. I had never purchased anything from Overstock but I headed over to give it a whirl. I created an account in like 30 seconds…surfed to buy some piece of clothing. Place it into my shopping cart. Clicked the pay with bitcoin button, and the transaction was very smoothly handeled by coinbase (which I had previously setup to handle the bitcoin URL transactions, rather then use my wallet).
The system asked for my 2 factor Coinbase authentication (also reassuring). I authenticated, and it was all done fast! Back to Overstock with a “Your Order Was Successful” message! Hey you know what the bitcoin thing might have legs. I also received a confirmation from Coinbase that was also reassuring.
All in all, it was an interesting set of spending experiences. I have no doubt the growing pains of using bitcoins for real purchases will be smoothed out and is in fact rapidly getting smoothed out. Just keep your eyes open for some bumps in the road but start shopping!