There are hundreds of articles out there (some of them on this very site) about how to protect yourself when you’re shopping online. From choosing the right website to setting up an online-specific debit card for your purchases, there are all sorts of things you can and should be doing to protect your income and your identity.
One of them may very well be to convert some of your money to bitcoins….
A Bitcoin Overview:
Bitcoins, for the uninitiated, are not just a fictional currency talked about on The Good Wife. They are a real thing and currently they are worth actual dollars. Sometimes, depending upon the fluctuations in the Bitcoin market, they might even be worth lots of dollars.
Bitcoins are virtual currency, something known as a cryptocurrency. Currently, the currency is not backed by any physical thing like gold or silver. There is also no limit to how many bitcoins exist which is why there are a lot of smart people in the financial sector who insist that bitcoin is a frivolous and unstable market.
How Do I Get Bitcoins?
You get bitcoins by “mining” for them. This isn’t as simple as playing an online game like Candy Crush or whatever is popular when you read this. To “mine” for bitcoins you set up your computer to solve complicated algorithms. Solving these algorithms will use most of a household computer’s resources and can take days to accomplish.
If you don’t want to devote a computer to “mining,” you can simply buy them from someone through a Bitcoin exchange.
But What if I Don’t Want to Buy Anything Online?
What separates these, for lack of better word, points from other in-game or virtual currencies (like the kind you might find in World of Warcraft or SecondLife) is that they are not just good for virtual goods. Real world retailers are now accepting bitcoin as payment for tangible goods.
Where Can I Spend My Bitcoins?
Believe it or not, there are lots of retailers and sellers who accept Bitcoins now. Overstock.com helped start the trend when Patrick Byrne decided to jump on the Bitcoin train. According to the AMA Patrick Byrne did on Reddit, his background in computation theory and his fandom of Austrian economics (which “eschews” the fiat system used by most of the world) are what made him eager to jump onboard this rising cryptocurrency.
Other companies that accept bitcoin include OKCupid, Fiverr, SoundCloud, WordPress, Feedly, Expedia, AirBnB, Cars.com, BandCamp and more (a quick Google search will turn up a few master lists you can use). Independent artists and musicians like Marian Call have also been working to set up BitCoin acceptance for their music and merchandise.
It’s a trend to be sure, but a trend that looks like it’s catching some footing!
The point is that you have a lot of different options for shopping online now than simply plugging in your credit card number and hoping for the best. You can use PayPal, a “dummy” card or—like many of your peers are starting to do—Bitcoins. The future really is a great place, isn’t it?