You might have heard a little of the noise Bitcoins were making earlier this month. The digital currency saw a huge spike in trading and worth, setting off a roller coaster filled with dips, rises, and some hacking problems along the way.
Some explanation might be in order. Bitcoins are a completely digital currency – unlike the dollars and cents in your online bank and PayPal accounts, Bitcoins have no real world counterparts. In fact, that’s the point – Bitcoins were originally founded as a currency that would be free from the hands of governments and banks, enabling anonymous, peer-to-peer exchange – no middleman.
The number of Bitcoins available on the market is strictly controlled – as of now, only 21 million Bitcoins can exist, and about 11 million do. The rest will eventually come into being through Bitcoin mining, as (extremely tech savvy) prospectors hope to happen upon Bitcoins through a really, really arcane process. The concept is simpler – it’s like trying to dig up precious metals from the earth in the hopes of striking it rich. An algorithm controls how much of the currency is available and will be available, making it self-regulating, in an economic sense.
And, they can be yours. The biggest Bitcoin exchange site is called Mt. Gox, and you can buy some of the virtual currency there. You’ll probably wish you had done so earlier, though – before this month, one Bitcoin was worth about $20. This month, it spiked up to well over $200 before settling down to $134, where it is at the time of writing. Mt. Gox was also hit with a DDoS attack, which some blamed for the subsequent crash from over $200 down to where it is now, raising questions about stability – which is fair enough, considering that in one month, a single Bitcoin went from paying for a pizza to paying for an iPhone.
But, maybe you’re not interested in currency trading and the effects of digital currency on real world economics. After all, money is for buying things, right? So, what can you actually buy with the things? Take a look below for some of the best legal things Bitcoins can buy.
Get Yourself a Website
As of last week, Certified Hosting, which offer Web hosting services, is accepting Bitcoins as payment. Certified Hosting, along with the proponents of Bitcoin, are touting the anonymous, direct nature of the transactions. So, you know, if you have that one idea for a website that you’ve been keeping a secret, you can go ahead and start it up now. No one will ever know. We won’t ask.
Buy a Round
You can do that at EVR, a bar in Manhattan. The bar itself is new, opening up in January, and its Bitcoin policy is even newer – they started accepting BTC payments just this month. Staff members use an app that converts the a tab in U.S. dollars to Bitcoins, and can then receive a payment from the customer’s phone. No middleman besides the app, and even there, the bar is coming out a winner – processing fees are 1 to 2 percent, compared to the 3 to 5 percent usually charged for credit card payments.
Have Pizza Delivered
Domino’s doesn’t exactly accept Bitcoins, but there’s a way you can use your Bitcoins to get a Domino’s pizza to your place nonetheless. Head over to PizzaForCoins.com, which is a sort of intermediary service that accepts your Bitcoins, and puts in an order to your local Domino’s on your behalf. Because of the small transaction fee and a USD-BTC exchange adjustment charged by the website, you’ll end up paying a little more than you normally would, but if that’s the price you have to pay to make sure that no one will ever have on record that you ordered five extra large pizzas all for yourself, so be it.
Beautify Your Blog
If you roll with WordPress for your blogging needs, know that the WordPress store accepts Bitcoins as payment. You can banish ads from your blog, get some premium themes, or go on a Bitcoin shopping spree and just snap up everything. Let no expense be spared for the blog.
Outfit a Little League Soccer Team
Dress those kids for success with the purchasing power of the Bitcoin, whatever that purchasing power happens to be at the time. Who knows. Anyway, if you have Bitcoins burning a hole in your digital wallet, you can head over to Soccer Shirts Online, and plunk down some Bitcoins to get full kits for all the kids. I’m not sure if they will plaster brands all over the jerseys so your kids can feel like real soccer stars. Maybe you can ask in an email.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Artisanal chocolates from Scotland? Sure. Cupcakes fresh out of a San Francisco bakery? You bet. Baklava? Good heavens, yes. But, why get specific? You can head over to Stateless Sweets and get all sorts of homemade sweets delivered right to your doorstep.
Warm Your Feet
When it comes to socks, there’s nothing like alpaca. Socks from Grass Hill Alpacas come from a family farm in Massachusetts, and are made from 78 percent alpaca wool, which is 100 percent less itchy than regular wool. Plus, just look at those socks. They almost make me wish it was winter again.
Game on the Go
No, not the 3DS or the Vita. NestorGames is talking about board games – portable board games that fit into a small cotton bag the size of a pencil case. The board itself can roll up easily and fit into the case, and the pieces are small enough to not take up too much room. The boards are made of rubber, so they’re still appreciably stable as game boards. There are plenty of games to choose from, too, from the obscure to ,well, chess.