Erik Weijers, a year ago

Soon: paying with Bitcoin at major US retail chains

At the annual Bitcoin conference in Miami yesterday, Jack Mallers, the CEO of Strike, had big news. At major US retail chains, you will soon be able to pay with Bitcoin. Think McDonald's, Walmart and Starbucks.

The payments will be possible at over 400,000 storefronts from dozens of different major chains. This is possible because Strike, the Bitcoin payment app, has entered into partnerships with payment providers like NCR. But also with Shopify, which means that online stores that use Shopify can also accept payments in Bitcoin.

Stores can also accept dollars with the new payment functionality. The conversion from Bitcoin to dollars, is configurable in the payment software.

Rapid developments around Lightning

The news is yet another example of the rapid developments around Bitcoin and Lightning. Lightning is an open network that anyone can build on. Volumes on the network are likely to increase rapidly following this news, which will accelerate adoption. Another example of Lightning adoption is trading app Robinhood, which recently announced that Bitcoin transactions will be possible on Lightning. On Kraken, it is possible since last week. Greater liquidity on Lightning also makes all kinds of new projects possible. Another recent example was the project to introduce stablecoins on Bitcoin.

What are the implications?

  • In the eyes of the general public Bitcoin is increasingly removing itself from the realm of 'shadowy super coders' and ransomware. This is a good development.
  • Payments are becoming cheaper for stores and therefore ultimately for consumers. A Lightning payment costs much less than what, say, Visa charges. Also, this network makes it possible for people without a bank account to make transactions. This is a big deal in countries like El Salvador, who also adopted Lightning.
  • Owning Bitcoin becomes less risky. Because if you can spend your BTC anywhere, it becomes impractical for a (future) government to isolate your Bitcoin and blacklist addresses. The latter would be easier if you could only take your Bitcoin to a major exchange to convert it to dollars or euros.

Cautious criticism
Some criticism of the news comes from prominent Lightning developer Rene Pickhardt. He feels that the network is not yet sufficiently reliable. According to Pickhardt, a network with some teething problems is not yet ready to be rolled out on such a large scale.

About Bitcoin 2022

Bitcoin 2022 in Miami Beach is the largest Bitcoin conference in the world. This year it featured speakers such as Michael Saylor, Peter Thiel and Cathie Wood. Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas revealed that he hodls60% of his liquid investments in Bitcoin.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez unveiled the new Miami Bull: the Bitcoin version of the famous bull on Wall Street.

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