Recently, Georgia Institute of Technology announced that it would become the first university in the world to allow patrons to pay by bitcoin in the stadium concession sales. 1 Bitcoin payments will also be accepted in the university's student dining and shopping credit system. The transactions will be handled by BitPay.
In order to facilitate the sales, point of sale devices will be situated in Bobby Dodd Stadium as well as in the Barnes & Noble store located in Tech Square, enabling students to pay for goods and food with bitcoin. Georgia Tech, which dates back to 1885, has developed a reputation in recent years for the field of applied technology.
The move to offer bitcoin payment capability is certainly a good one for the university. Reports from the Bank of England indicate that approximately 41 million bitcoin accounts have been opened around the world. At the same time, worldwide spending on goods and services has grown two-fold in the last year. In response, the number of markets opening to bitcoin enthusiasts has increased rapidly.
With new digital wallets and apps making bitcoin easier to use, combined with a lower volatility, bitcoin has proven to be attractive to users from all walks of life. No longer are adoptees of bitcoin restricted solely to tech enthusiasts. In countries such as Russia and Brazil, an increasing number of users have begun to take advantage of bitcoin as a way of hedging against volatility in their own country's currency.
More mainstream companies are also now stepping up to the plate and offering the option to pay for purchases with bitcoin. Reports from BitPay and Coinbase indicate that more than 75,000 companies accept bitcoin. Such companies include Dish Network Corp., Overstock.com, and Expedia. The move to accept bitcoin benefits not only the companies accepting it but also the consumers using it. For instance, Expedia has reported that customers using bitcoin often book extra nights or nicer hotel rooms than they would ordinarily book.
In order to entice consumers to pay with bitcoin, other companies are even offering special bitcoin promotions. Dell has lowered the price for certain computer systems, while Newegg, Inc. has offered discounts on minimum purchases.
Online vendors are not the only companies getting in on the act of accepting bitcoin payments. Since marijuana dispensaries are not able to accept credit cards legally, bitcoin vending machines have now been leased to dispensaries.
The Bank of England has also recently issued a statement indicating that bitcoin technology could have broad implication and even potentially change the face of the financial industry. At the heart of such predictions is the fact that since most financial assets, including bonds and shares, are already based on digital records, the distributed ledger system used for bitcoin could have a potential impact on the current financial system.
Wired recently reported that Overstock.com is already taking actions to build software based on bitcoin that would make it possible for the company to issue corporate stock online. Such a move would allow Overstock to avoid the traditional stock exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. As part of facilitating the move, Overstock recently contracted two developers with bitcoin experience to work on the construction of cryptosecurity software. The securities issued online would be controlled via cryptographic algorithms rather than a central stock exchange.
Along with operating outside a central stock exchange, the Internet-issued securities would also provide other benefits, including the ability to side-step loopholes that currently exist in the system. Additionally, the crypto-based securities would make it possible for Overstock to take advantage of lower costs related to the issue and management of stock.
The issuance of online-based stock is not completely assured, however. Such software does require approval from government regulators. Currently, Overstock is still in the building phase, but when the software is complete, the system will need to be presented to regulators in order to receive approval.
Whether the system will be approved or not remains to be seen, but Overstock is already hedging its bets by employing the assistance of an entire team of lawyers with relevant experience in digital currencies.
The ultimate goal is the creation of a stock system that will operate outside the purview of large banks. A stock system based on a digital system would also help to eliminate a practice that has become increasingly common on Wall Street involving the sale of shares that do not actually exist. In a blockchain-based system in which transactions are completely public, the naked short selling practice would be eliminated. If put into practice, the system could also ultimately assist startups in taking their companies public while eliminating the middleman.
1) Yahoo Finance. Georgia Tech and BitPay Announce Bitcoin Integration for Stadium and Student BuzzCards.