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Not only was a brandname merchant accepting bitcoin, but the bitcoin economy had opened up to millions more. Sadly, the unexplained drop eroded my buying power. I first felt it at lunch that day. I was trying to uphold my living standard during the week and I was on a mission. My research led me to Gyft — an online service that converts bitcoin into gift cards that can be used at physical stores, such as Target.
Normally this transaction would have completed within an hour, but today was different. I waited at Whole Foods feverishly checking the app over the course of an hour until I surrendered to a lunch-less day. I tweeted to Gyft about my troubles, but left the store defeated and hungry. Once back at the office, I learned that the quick deterioration of bitcoin spot prices had led me to underpay for the gift certificate and my order was held up. After a few more back and forths on Twitter and email, Gyft manually pushed my order.
Two and half hours later, I received my gift certificate, but no lunch. By the time I got back to Whole Foods after work, I was ravished and feasted on beer and macaroni and cheese. Healthy food can wait. My purchasing power took another hit. B itcoin living requires forethought. He wanted to bring bitcoin payments to Menufy but found building a payment processor from scratch to be daunting and initially laid the plan to rest.
My stomach was thankful. While companies like Menufy and Coinbase make it easier for merchants to accept bitcoin online, the physical world still needs work. For these merchants, cash works fine.
Ray Yusuf, a New York entrepreneur, is trying to convince merchants otherwise. His company Easybitz integrates bitcoin payment processors for a diverse group of merchants — from food trailers to high-end restaurants. Although his data is still uneven, he sees bitcoin transactions increasing for his merchants, especially for those in Asia and Europe. After five days of living only using bitcoin, I am admittedly tired of cancelling dinner with friends, planning my meals in advance, and limited eating options.
Bitcoin has promise, but its value proposition and infrastructure needs work. For it to take off as a currency, more merchants need to accept it, its exchange price needs to stabilize, and consumers must find real benefit in using it. I most likely will return to my cash and credit card ways, but I am still a bitcon believer and its potential not only as a currency, but also as a protocol. Living in the Nascent Bitcoin Economy Jul 24, Techzette is an online news magazine covering startups and technology in Austin Texas.