Bitcoin is well and truly out of the box and on its way to becoming a fixture of day-to-day life.
The days of the cryptocurrency being confined to the dark web and used only by criminals and those with questionable morals are long gone. Bitcoin is now an established feature of the financial landscape and is becoming more ubiquitous by the day.
From Taxes to Tuition
Less than a month ago, the Swiss town of Chiasso announced that as of next year, citizens would be able to use Bitcoin to pay their local taxes. This follows a move by another Swiss town which last year began accepting payment for municipal services in the same way. Both moves have been implemented in order to try and establish the areas as centres of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.
If this seems like a bold step into the unknown, then it might come as a surprise to hear that these Swiss towns are relative latecomers to the Bitcoin party when compared to the University of Cumbria. Back in 2014, UoC became the first institution in the UK to begin accepting tuition fees payments in bitcoins and other universities are now following its lead. In fact, if you were lucky enough to attend one of New York’s best private schools before starting your university career, your whole education could theoretically be funded by your (or your parents’) Bitcoin investments.
There is now a wide variety of companies and services out there that accept bitcoins and the list is growing by the day. But buying a beer or registering a domain name with bitcoins is one thing – paying tuition fees or taxes with them is quite another. It’s these more significant, less trivial payments that point towards mass adoption as opposed to novelty value.
Bitcoin for Real Estate
Alongside tuition fees and taxes, another significant outlay for many of us is rent. We all have to live somewhere, after all. Yet again, Bitcoin is making inroads into this sector too – in September a London property developer announced that its tenants would be able to pay their deposits using bitcoins with rental payments due to be allowed later this year. Similar schemes have been reported from New York to the Philippines.
Bitcoin can also be used to purchase property as well. Back in September it was announced that lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone and her partner were giving buyers the opportunity to purchase apartments in their new Dubai development with bitcoins, whilst on a slightly smaller scale an enterprising South Londoner offered his Peckham home for sale in the same way.
It’s easy to see the attraction for those who chose to use Bitcoin for these types of purchases. Transactions are completely secure and almost instantaneous. Hold-ups with bank transfers and third party fees are cut as the currency operates on a peer-to-peer basis. And for the many of us whose trust in banks has never recovered following the crash of 2008, Bitcoin offers a democratic, decentralised and viable alternative.
We are still some way from mass adoption and the process will be gradual as opposed to overnight. Whilst there are indeed thousands of shops and businesses across the world that now accept bitcoins, there are millions more that still adhere to the traditional system.
The public perception of Bitcoin is still coloured by its dark web associations in many peoples’ minds and there are plenty who find the concept of a digital currency with no solid incarnation to be baffling. Attitudes and perceptions will have to shift but there are encouraging signs that show such a process is well underway.
In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend that, ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ All these years on, chances are not many people would disagree with him on that one. We’ve already seen how Bitcoin is paying that second certainty in Switzerland, so consider this: If you’re planning a funeral in Minnesota, Crescent Tide Funeral Services proudly state they accept bitcoins too. There’s even a 3% discount.
With life’s two certainties already covered by Bitcoin, who’d bet against everything else in between eventually going the same way?
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