Checking your Bitcoin Balance
Through an online or mobile wallet like BitPay, Blockchain.info, Coinbase.com, Exodus, or Shakepay, users need only to enter their password.
The first screen that pops up after logging in will show the balance. Two-factor authentication might be enabled. If that’s the case, click a button to send a verification code to your phone. Conversely, opening a random number generating app like Google Authenticator on a phone and entering the numbers into a text box on the first post-login screen will do the trick.
Once a user has access to funds it’s time to spend. Spending money is easy no matter what the currency of choice is. One difference with Bitcoin is consumers have to take the extra step of researching merchants willing to accept it before deciding to make a purchase. Some major online retailers like Overstock.com and NewEgg.com are already many years into Bitcoin adoption. Others are still catching up.
Of course, Bitcoin isn’t just for buying products and services. It has a variety of uses. People also give Bitcoin to charity, send it to friends and family, and even use it for gambling. Learning to use it is a great skill to have. Especially, as society’s idea of money becomes more closely tied to technology.
Here’s a short guide for how to spend and use bitcoins.
Buying with Bitcoin Really is Getting Easier
Just over nine years ago, Laszlo Hanyecz famously purchased two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin. Little did he know the thousands of Bitcoin would eventually be worth many millions of dollars. The thing is back then it wasn’t that easy to find a Bitcoin retailer. Today’s world is very different. Here’s just a shortlist of other retailers now accepting digital gold and other cryptocurrencies.
- Domino’s pizza
- Subway sandwiches
- Virgin Galactic (including Virgin Mobile and Virgin Airline)
- Expedia and many more
So how does the purchasing process for Bitcoin typically work? Again, it’s really simple. Pick an item to purchase, click the checkout button and select Bitcoin as the payment method. Most merchants will display either a QR code or Bitcoin wallet address on the checkout screen (a long string of alphanumeric characters) or both and the shopper can simply scan or copy the code/address. Once the Bitcoin address is saved on a clipboard it can be pasted into the send field of the sender’s wallet. The transaction takes a few moments to confirm on the blockchain. Then the merchant confirms the order and takes the shopper to a thank you screen. That’s it!
Donating Bitcoin to Charity
More and more charities and other kinds of non-profit organizations are now accepting Bitcoin donations. There are three main reasons for this:
First, many cryptocurrency projects collecting funds through initial coin offerings are registered as non-profit organizations. So, the idea of funding non-profits with cryptocurrency is pretty well embedded in the Bitcoin world.
Secondly, the reason donating Bitcoin is becoming so popular is because sending and receiving Bitcoin is much cheaper than sending and receiving fiat currency. That’s especially true when it comes to funding projects in developing and Third World countries – which of course many of the world’s largest charities do. Why spend a large chunk of a transaction on a wire transfer fee to build homes in Africa when the blockchain can do it for pennies on the dollar and get it there faster? No third parties taking a cut out of a donation means more money goes to the people that really need it. Bitcoin expedites the process for the better.
The third and perhaps most important reason more and more charities are accepting Bitcoin is simply because making it easier for people to donate without incurring extra expenses makes people even more likely to donate.
Here’s just a shortlist of large charitable organizations that accept Bitcoin:
- Fidelity Charitable
- The United Way
- The Red Cross
- The Water Project
- The Free Software Foundation
- A Special Wish Foundation – Chicago
Giving Bitcoin to a good cause works the same way as purchasing a product. Just select a donation amount, hit checkout, generate a wallet address to send Bitcoins, and send away. Donors will still get a tax receipt just as they do for donating regular paper money or making a donation via credit card.
Giving Bitcoin to Friends and Family
Giving Bitcoin to friends and family is not only cheap and convenient, but it’s also a way to inspire adoption and educate familiar faces about the amazing world of digital currencies. Help a parent, sibling, cousin aunt or uncle download a wallet and send them some Bitcoin. When they see how easy and quick it is, they’ll want to learn more about the blockchain and Bitcoin.
Be sure to educate them about the benefits and risks associated with buying Bitcoin in person. It’s one thing to get coins from a friend or relative, it’s another thing to take that risk with a stranger.
Gambling with Bitcoin
The gambling industry is always having to find new ways to accept payments from players. Merchants, banks, government and credit card issuers simply don’t like gaming sites they can’t regulate and tax. That’s why more and more sportsbooks and casinos are trending towards accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The process of depositing Bitcoin onto a gambling site and using them to wager is easy.
- Log in to an online sportsbook or casino
- Navigate to the deposit options
- Choose Bitcoin
- Generate an address to send to
- Copy and paste the address
- Select the amount of Bitcoin to send
- Confirm the transaction
Once the gambling site of choice confirms Bitcoin is available for gaming, the amount will be converted into dollars. This ensures dramatic fluctuations in the day-to-day price of Bitcoin don’t impact the value of a wager while an event or game is in progress. Once the event is complete, dollars can then be converted back into bitcoins allowing the user to withdraw their winnings.
Here’s to spending, gaming, entertaining and educating with Bitcoin. Don’t forget to give some to charity too. After all, Bitcoin exists to give everyone more access to wealth!