More examples of cryptocurrency in the real world

6 December, 2019

If you are of a mind to spread the word about cryptocurrency among all your family, friends, and acquaintances, nothing is more effective than citing examples of cryptocurrency in the real world. Worldwide adoption depends on people using digital coins to purchase goods and services. But in order for them to do so, they have to realize that it is possible. Thus, examples of crypto in the real world become that much more important.

This post highlights three great examples. The first relates to pro basketball in the U.S.; the second is all about ice cream in Germany; the third example is something the crypto community talks about every May: Bitcoin Pizza Day. So, let us get started.

1. Buying Kings tickets with Bitcoin

A lot of people do not know that the NBA's Sacramento Kings are very much into Bitcoin. Not only do they accept Bitcoin payments for tickets and gear, they also have their own mining operation. The team even supports educational opportunities to teach local students about blockchain technology. It is actually quite impressive.

The Kings joined the cryptocurrency world back in 2014 when they became the first professional sports team to start accepting crypto payments. While others have joined them, the total number of crypto-accepting pro sports entities is still comparatively low. The Kings want to do something about that. As such, they are very vocal about their cryptocurrency and blockchain operations.

Fans can buy game tickets with Bitcoin. They can shop in the store at the Kings' arena with Bitcoin as their primary currency. They can even buy Kings merchandise online with Bitcoin.

Behind the scenes, the Kings have set up mining operations in the team's data center. That means they are earning Bitcoin rewards from mining, just like every other miner does. Mining gives them a stake in Bitcoin and its success. For team executives though, even that isn't the primary motivation for doing what they do.

According to a Front Office Sports interview with King's chief technology officer Ryan Montoya, the team began their mining operation as an educational enterprise. They want local students to understand that cryptocurrency and blockchain are here to stay. They want the technology to be part of every student's STEM learning.

Moving beyond spending

Fan reception of Bitcoin back in 2014 was phenomenal, according to Montoya. But all has not been sunshine and roses since. Montoya explained in his interview how fans were happy to spend Bitcoin on tickets and merchandise when it was trading at around $800. By the time it climbed to $1200, people were not so willing to spend any more.

Season ticket holders are still quite happy to secure their tickets with Bitcoin. Merchandise buyers, not so much. Yet that hasn't dampened the Kings' enthusiasm. To counter slowing Bitcoin sales, the team launched a rewards program based on blockchain technology. The program allows fans to earn crypto rewards for a variety of activities, including participating in blockchain scavenger hunts to win crypto collectibles.

It is clear the Sacramento Kings are committed to both cryptocurrency and blockchain. According to Montoya, the team is ready to embrace just about any technology it believes will make what they do, and the community, better. Cryptocurrency could not have a more vocal supporter in the world of professional sports.

2. Direct Bitcoin payments for ice cream

If you ever find yourself in Berlin's Friedrichshain district and in the mood for some great ice cream, you might want to check out Chipi Chipi Bombón. Not only does the store sell delicious gelato and hot chocolate, they also accept Bitcoin. They have been set up for Bitcoin payments since June 2019.

The shop's management recently tweeted about an experience that literally changed the way they do business with Bitcoin. Apparently, the shop's owner ran into Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos at another local establishment. Antonopoulos educated him regarding all things crypto, eventually convincing the owner to ditch his cryptocurrency payment processor in favor of accepting Bitcoin directly.

The store's owner did just that and is very happy to have made the decision. His shop now has its own hardware wallet for cold storage and utilizes an open source payment system to receive BTC. Transactions are processed on the Lightning Network as well.

How it's different

You might be wondering how things are different since the ice cream shop changed its payment system. Prior to making the switch, all their Bitcoin payments went through a privately-owned payment processor who converted the BTC to fiat. The fiat was then forwarded to the shop via an electronic transaction.

Under the new arrangement, there is no conversion of BTC. Even though the shop uses an open source payment processing system, the BTC remains as is. It is transferred directly from the buyer's wallet to the shop's wallet. This makes for less expensive transactions and more revenue for the shop.

Utilizing the Lightning Network adds to speed to the equation. The Lightning Network is essentially a second layer network that works on top of Bitcoin's primary network. It handles large volumes of minor transactions that are eventually bundled into a single transaction before being added to the Bitcoin blockchain.

3. Bitcoin Pizza Day

Our third example of cryptocurrency in the real world is a pizza promotion in France that taps into the most famous day in Bitcoin history: Bitcoin Pizza Day. We will explain Bitcoin pizza day later. For now, let us talk about the promotion in France.

Domino's Pizza France recently announced a promotion in honor of its 30th anniversary. The promotion, which ran throughout September 2019, encouraged customers to play a variety of quick games whenever they ordered. Participants were rewarded with an opportunity to win €100,000 to be paid in an equivalent amount of Bitcoin.

The actual Bitcoin value of the prize was €110,000. The extra amount covered the exchange rate difference between Bitcoin and fiat. The promotion itself is now over and the winner will be identified and paid some time in December 2019.

Domino's and cryptocurrency

This is not Domino's first foray into the cryptocurrency world. Earlier in 2019, Domino's stores in Singapore and Malaysia adopted a blockchain logistics and supply chain solution with on-board artificial intelligence. Furthermore, most Domino's locations worldwide accept cryptocurrency payments from customers on May 22, the day recognized as Bitcoin Pizza Day.

A day in crypto infamy

So, what is Bitcoin Pizza Day? It is an unofficial cryptocurrency holiday celebrating what many consider the biggest cryptocurrency fail in history. The incident in question was not considered a failure when it occurred back in 2010, but it is now - given the value of Bitcoin on the open market.

May 22, 2010 was the day that an American computer programmer by the name of Laszlo Hanyecz spent BTC 10,000 for two pizzas. The Papa John's store he bought the pizzas from didn't accept BTC payments back then. However, that wasn't a problem for Hanyecz. He went online in search of someone willing to take his coins and order pizza for him in exchange.

Teenager Jeremy Sturdivant accepted the challenge. He took the equivalent of US$41 in BTC, placed the pizza order, and went on his way. It is not clear whether he still owns that BTC, but if he does, Sturdivant is now independently wealthy. Bitcoin was priced at just under $8,000 at the time this post was written. That means the 10,000 BTC Sturdivant received back in 2010 is now worth the equivalent of US$80 million.

Putting it all together

Setting aside Bitcoin Pizza Day and Jeremy Sturdivant's windfall, Bitcoin adoption in the real world means something. Bitcoin was originally developed as an alternative monetary system that could facilitate easier payments and level the playing field between the economic haves and have-nots. Some of creator Satoshi Nakamoto's original goals have been realized; most have not.

Bitcoin absolutely makes for a very good investment these days. It is easy to make the case that it acts as a reliable store of value. And yes, you can buy things like Sacramento Kings tickets and ice cream with BTC. Still, the total value of annual BTC retail transactions is a fraction of the total fiat transactions.

Bitcoin just has not caught on as a day-to-day payment system. Nor has any other cryptocurrency. Perhaps it's because so many consumers and merchants are fearful of cryptocurrency. They do not understand it, so they subsequently fear it. Yet there is nothing to be afraid of.

If Nakamoto's vision for Bitcoin is ever to become reality, widespread adoption among individual merchants will be at the core. It is the combination of all those small transactions between individual consumers and merchants that makes the foundation of the global economy. It all starts on Main Street.

The Sacramento Kings have proven that BTC can work as a payment system. They have proven that educating people about cryptocurrency and blockchain is effective. Half-way across the world, an ice cream shop in Berlin has discovered that they can do business better by accepting Bitcoin directly. Both are examples of cryptocurrency in the real world, examples that show just how well digital currencies can work.