I can still remember the times when travelling without a credit card could be really inconvenient. But since Maestro and Cirrus cards work around the globe, it’s fine without. The time where shopping on the internet without a credit card was inconvenient to impossible was not so long ago. In a recent post, I announced that I don’t plan to renew my credit card. So here are some hints on how to get by without. BitCoin is the tool of choice as it has so many advantages.
On christmas we usually play a game with the familiy of my wife. Everybody gets assigned a random person to make a gift. Beforehand we distribute our wish lists. My stuff is usually from online sites. The problem is, I’m the only one with a credit card in this circle. So what looks easy to me, might be difficult to order for the others. But the democratization of money, which BitCoin is about, is going to make online commerce a lot easier. Soon anybody with a computer or a phone will be allowed to participate.
Businesses that directly accept BitCoin
Even though there are thousands of businesses listed in the directories to accept BitCoin worldwide, only a few of them are in Switzerland. Most of them are in niche areas, selling goods that most people rarely need. And usually you search for goods rather than places where you can spend your money. Some of the American giants like dell, overstock, tigerdirect, newegg or adafruit deliver abroad at prohibitive costs, not at all, or only allow BitCoin payments for domestic clients. But sometimes you stumble across a site that accepts BitCoin by pure coincidence like for example nitrokey, spycoins or reelhouse.
Call me old school, but I don’t like subscriptions to watch movies. Yes NetFlix is a lot cheaper than the other options we have in Switzerland, but I just don’t like subscriptions that renew automatically, cost you when you don’t use it, and have notice periods when you want to terminate. Instead I want to select the movie I want to watch, and pay for it. Basta. Why is that so difficult? No wonder movies get pirated all the time. If it were so easy to pay for what you want, and the prices were reasonable, there would be no incentive to download movies from torrents or p2p. The music industry struggled for a while with the same problem. But nowadays you can download music at reasonable prices and it’s not even crippled with DRM anymore. When will the movie industry learn that making interesting offers is better than trying to break the internet? When I bought the movie “The rise and rise of BitCoin” on vimeo, I could pay with BitCoin and download the movie without DRM. The experience was so good, that I started exploring the video on demand section on vimeo. But when I wanted to buy the next movie, there was no BitCoin option, as with the previous one it ran through a voucher code. So I wanted to pay it with PayPal. But it kept failing and asking for a credit card. It just wouldn’t use my balance. It didn’t state it clearly, but somehow vimeo requested the address information associated with a credit card. Why that? Probably because of some area restriction which is almost as stupid as DRM itself. And this type of restriction clearly didn’t apply to the movie I was about to buy. Luckily somebody from “The flying Frenchies” told me that their video is also available from reelhouse. They natively support BitCoin. You can choose to rent and watch in the browser with flash, or buy and download DRM free. That’s exactly how it should be. I found my movie platform, and hope their selection will expand quickly.
Amazon and buy by proxy with discount
No, they still don’t accept BitCoin directly. But you can either buy gift cards from gyft.com or egifter.com, or even better let someone else place the order on your behalf and pay him in BitCoin. That is how purse.io and brawker work. Purse.io is exclusively geared towards amazon. You create a new wish list with amazon, configure your shipping address and populate it. Then you copy the URL of your wish list into purse and select your desired discount. People who want to buy your bitcoins make offers with differing discounts, usually in the range of 7%. You send your coins into escrow and select an offer. Once the goods are delivered, you release the coins from escrow and the buyer gets them. As it is geared towards amazon there are less variables, and thus it runs very smoothly. If your item is listed with amazon, but delivered by a 3rd party seller, purse might have problems processing. That’s when I tried brawker. Here you populate one or more edit fields with URL’s containing direct links to the products you want. They can be on any site. That’s why you also see strange things listed. But the process is otherwise the same as with purse. One thing I noticed is that the escrow BitCoin address is actually a P2SH multisig address. But to release, I didn’t have to sign the transaction with my BitCoin refund address. Thus I don’t really know what this is about. Finally, I sould mention snapcard and bitspend. They offered similar service where they executed the orders and charged in BitCoin. BitSpend closed long ago, and SnapCard changed their business model.
I used to do donations for Mozilla and SeaShepherd through SnapCard, but these days I do direct BitCoin donations only. And in fact many non profit organisations accept direct donations: Apache, Mozilla, LibreOffice, GnuPG (through the Wau Holland foundation), Electronic Frontier Foundation, digitale-nchhaltigkeit.ch, Wikipedia, Gliding Everest, Ebola fighters, Koptimism, BitCoinFoundation, to name just a few.
There used to be an auction site that ran on BitCoin. It was called BitMit and was very cool. For some reason they closed a while ago. I don’t know of a good alternative at the moment, but there are better things to come. The most prominent being OpenBazaar. The great thing about it ist that it’s not jsut another centralized service, but completely decentralized.
In some areas you find lots of restaurants where you can pay with BitCoin. In Switzerland, I know only of Kafi Schoffel in Zürich. But this post is about the internet. You can order food for BirCoin on lieferservice.ch, which for sure has something in your area.