With 2017 in full motion, Bitcoin’s price climb to the mid-$900 range and beyond continues to raise eyebrows. For many, this milestone is just one signal of cryptocurrency’s growing repute as a legitimate store of investment value.
Little attention, however, has been given to Bitcoin’s utility as a day-to-day method of payment. Practical use cases involving consumer adoption, in fact, are rarely talked about. This is despite the well-documented cost, efficiency and security advantages of the Bitcoin payment network for both consumers and businesses alike.
A new U.S.-based startup company aims to change this through an effort to accelerate the everyday use of Bitcoin for consumers worldwide. Launched in May of 2016, iPayYou is an online platform and digital wallet that promotes the viability of Bitcoin as a method of payment. It immediately saw early success through a unique feature known as Pay-by-Twitter — the first online platform site for peer-to-peer payments over Twitter (TWTR).
Now in a bold bet sure to deliver a caffeine jolt to the retail sector, iPayYou this past December introduced Bitcoin Direct to Starbucks (SBUX), a new way for coffee aficionados to pay for those espressos and other drinks through the use of Bitcoin.
This feature allows users to seamlessly transfer bitcoins from their existing iPayYou Bitcoin wallet to their Starbucks mobile app. They select how much (in USD) they wish to transfer before prompting Bitcoin Direct to Starbucks to automatically withdraw that amount from their iPayYou account. Once deposited into that person’s Starbucks account, purchases can be made via the mobile app at any Starbucks location.
This latest addition to the iPayYou platform comes on the heels of iPayYou’s recent gift card integration, allowing Bitcoin to be used for instant gift card purchases from retailers like Amazon (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY) and iTunes (AAPL).
These creative payment applications are the mastermind of founder and CEO Gene Kavner, former Worldwide Director of Amazon Associates. With extensive experience in the world of commerce, including prominent positions at Microsoft (MSFT) and Expedia (EXPE), Kavner developed iPayYou with the intention of establishing a easy-to-use Bitcoin wallet with simple features and low costs.
Regarding the strategic collaboration with Starbucks, Kavner remarks: “The broader significance of this move is that iPayYou is able to encourage Bitcoins to be spent in ways that its creators intended — for everyday purchases from popular merchants without needing a bank account to do so. This arrangement with Starbucks allows coffee lovers to replenish their primary Starbucks account with their Bitcoin holdings. We’ve accomplished this feat without Starbucks having to directly accept Bitcoin. Our hope is that through this demonstration Starbucks will soon begin accepting Bitcoin directly, sooner rather than later.”
In terms of advantages for Starbucks regulars, Kavner continues: “We intend to show that Bitcoin is not only a great investment but is also becoming quite useful in everyday life. Because so many of us are addicted to coffee, being able to use Bitcoin to purchase anything at Starbucks is an enormous win for everyday consumers. And Starbucks will benefit too due to the amount of Bitcoin users who will now become customers.”
Over time, Kavner believes that initiatives like this will encourage merchant acceptance of Bitcoin. “Probably the most important metric that every merchant looks at when deciding what methods of payment to accept is how many new customers will it help attract. A key reason for the slow merchant adoption of Bitcoin has been the relatively limited amount of people who wanted to use Bitcoin for POS transactions. Now, I believe that more and more will.”
In terms of what’s next for Bitcoin Direct for 2017 and beyond, Kavner is optimistic: “We’re going to continue to make Bitcoin easier, safer and more useful over 2017 and beyond. We are planning on expanding to enable more merchant adoption as well as adding many features that every Bitcoin wallet should have. At the same time, we’ll make Bitcoin simple to understand, not just to those of us who know and love Bitcoin already but for the everyday consumer who may not even know what Bitcoin is. We’ll continue to innovate to make Bitcoin easier and more useful for everyone.”
“The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc”