Buying Your Holiday Gifts With Bitcoin

Everyone focuses on the price of Bitcoin these days and it is no wonder why. But for Bitcoin to be anything more than a store of value, we need to see a transactional ecosystem develop. When the citizens of the world will be able to buy and sell from each other and from retailers of all shapes and sizes via Bitcoin, then we will have truly realized the potential of a global digital currency.

Furthermore, transactions can help stabilize what is a very volatile currency today. There is an imbalance of supply and demand right now. If there was as much transactional activity as there is speculative activity, there would be more supply of Bitcoins in the market (as retailers who recieve them turn them into their local currencies).

So everyone who wants to see Bitcoin succeed should want to see transactional activity rise and the sooner the better. This holiday season is a great time to make that happen. We have been involved in a campaign called Bitcoin Black Friday to encourage buyers and sellers to transact in Bitcoin this holiday season.

If you have products to sell and you accept Bitcoin go here and sign up.

If you want to buy your holiday gifts this year with Bitcoin, go here and sign up.

The idea is very simple. Sellers list their products and buyers get alerted when the deals go live and big retailers sign up. I plan to do my holiday shopping with Bitcoin. I hope you all will join me.

#hacking finance#marketplaces

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    transacting in BTC transfers fulfilment/fraud risk from vendor to buyer. superb for vendors, not so great for buyers. Irreversible transactions cut both ways. Huge Strengh + Achilles Heel.if only there was a centralised authority to regulate price, reverse fraudulent transactions and ban rogue actors ….oh wait.

    1. Aaron Klein

      One of the great challenges and opportunities.Bought a French door the other day at Lowes. Left it for will call by the contractor. My wife was worried the receipt wasn’t specific enough and somehow we could be out our money.”That’s what AmEx Member Services is for,” was my reply. It’s just not something I was remotely worried about.

  2. jason wright

    “…as retailers who recieve them turn them into their local currencies”.i wonder if governments will eventually permit the payment of local taxes in bitcoins?

  3. awaldstein

    I”m hoping this discussion shed some more light on this at a detail level.If you have an online store powered by Shopify, how does this happen? How does Shopify get their piece of this pie?Big ignorant, ready to get informed at a detailed level.

    1. fredwilson

      I believe shopify is integrating bitcoin right now. Read that somewhere. Maybe 😉

      1. awaldstein

        Although Shopify is kinda water wings for starter businesses without a lot of custom code, they do have great support so I’ll call and share what I find out.

      2. awaldstein

        Also Fred, for people, not geeks, super helpful to have a consumer merchant Q & A that can be linked on any commerce site.And a logo of course. And someone to aggregate all the shops that are accepting them.Presuming someone is doing all this.

  4. Brandon Burns

    I think if you want to see this happen, showing people how to easily accept bitcoins would be a good first step. And, for those that can’t build something custom, which will be most people, that means hooking up with existing payments gateways that take bitcoins.Below is a list of payments gateways available to anyone with a Shopify store. Are any of them bitcoin friendly?

    1. awaldstein

      Thanks for this….I want to use bitcoins for lulitonix, built on Shopify, so let’s share what we find out.

    2. mdudas

      My understanding is that Shopify has an integration with Bitpay so merchants can accept Bitcoin. It is not a public feature yet, so you must e-mail Shopify employee Brian Alkerton ([email protected]). See thread here:

      1. Brandon Burns

        Awesome. Thanks. I’ll look into it.I’m surprised that this was pretty much the only answer to my comment that had an actual actionable solution. Make me worried that maybe more don’t exist?Anyone? Anybody?

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Good point. If I was in charge of marketing Bitcoin, I’d find out where current Bitcoin users shop and what they buy and get Bitcoin accepted in those places now. (But, hey, maybe that’s what they’re already doing. I’m a Bitcoin noob.)

      1. Ed Freyfogle

        The whole point is that no one is in charge of bitcoin – marketing or otherwise. Not trying to be dismissive of your comment – this takes significant time to wrap your head around. No one is in charge.

    4. robertdesideri

      What’s interesting about Bitcoin is it’s infected minds, positively and negatively. Of a small community of geeks and nefarious actors.Some have become so enamored with its corpse they’ve embraced it with the kiss of life. Greed? Fear?Others see the devil. A Ponzi scheme or other deception.Bitcoin missionaries will try to door-to-door a solution (HT Groupon), get merchants, online shopping services and payments services to sign up, spend heavily to convert naysayers and illiterates. If such a strategy works they just might build their church.But it’s not that easy, at the end of the day a church vs state scenario is undeniable, meaning politics as usual. Meaning taxation, regulation, monitoring (perhaps to an individual level, a la Dread Pirate’s buyers and sellers, or your trades inadvertently being swept up for scrutinization in other monitoring), rights of interference, etc.It’s interesting, should Bitcoin’s congregation succeed in raising a roof for their chapel in the desert will the normals come? Normals comprise the majority of shoppers, it may be a too high hurdle for many. Credit cards are as easy as watching TV, appreciating economics requires something more. Could be a church bubble without the normals, no matter how many church locations and pretty architecture. Normals:

  5. Ed Freyfogle

    My prediction – many merchants want to sell in exchange for BTC. Very few consumers want to part with their BTC – especially after the last week, but mainly because everyone I know already has very convenient tools for making purchases (credit cards) and has bought their BTC as an investment / speculation. Not sure how to break that dynamic.As a consumer what’s the benefit of me purchasing with BTC?

    1. JLM

      .I have a very hard time believing that the methodology of payment — bitcoin — drives sales in any form or fashion.What it does is inject a level of complexity and cost which shaves already thin margins.I am much more interested in shipping and service after the sale.The ability to rely upon the merchant — Amazon being my absolute favorite — and the credit card company to “right” wrongs is a powerful driver for me.JLM.

  6. Tom Labus

    It will take awhile for BC to go mainstream. To get the average consumer adding Bitcoin on top of shopping will require some sort of incentive/cost benefit to move them

  7. leapy

    Sorry. I can’t see beyond the bubble. If we are into bigger fool territory or not, why would I purchase from anywhere using Bitcoin? I can load my Amazon app and one-click what I need. The Internet to date has always been about overcoming friction. Where’s the friction here?

    1. fredwilson

      “everyone who wants to see Bitcoin succeed should want to see transactional activity rise and the sooner the better”if you don’t want to see bitcoin succeed, then your logic is correct.if you are not interested in a single global currency where transactions costs are zero, then i totally get where you are coming from

      1. Perry Ismangil

        Zero transaction cost – not so sure, the infrastructure still needs to take their cut don’t they. Payment processors, wallets and such.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          It’s extremely low. Much cheaper than conventional.

      2. Frank Traylor

        Fred, I own bitcoin, find the concept fascinating, and think a global currency, not nation-based, would be very important.You, AVC, know better than anyone that people won’t use them for the success of bitcoin or the betterment of humanity. People do things for self-interest. To make things easier and cheaper.The good news, I’m going to buy some stuff because my bitcoin are worth a lot more than I bought them. Far better to use them than greenbacks right now.

  8. William Mougayar

    If you had bought it a month ago, then all your gifts would have been discounted by 75%. But if you buy it now, and its value goes down, it would be like inflationary pricing in real dollars, no?As more transactions occur, do we know what would be considered as stable pricing?

    1. Aaron Klein

      This is the interesting challenge of bitcoin. I think it’s going to have challenges until one key thing happens: that you can pay the rent with it.It makes total sense to start with shopping, but once you can pay the rent with Bitcoin, you will care as much about its exchange rate as you will the USD-EUR exchange rate.People don’t pay their rent in EUR, so they don’t care about the fluctuations.

      1. Richard

        Only if your paycheck is in bitcoin.

        1. Aaron Klein

          But the key to people accepting their salary in bitcoin is the ability to pay for one’s expenses with it.The expense side clearly happens first.

          1. Richard

            Not now! Who wouldn’t love to be paid in bitcoin and exchange it for dollars to pay their rent.

          2. Aaron Klein

            It crashed back down afterward. The uncertainty is too great for most.

    2. Richard

      It will increase the velocity of (bitcoin) money. Remember the quantity theory of money? QTM equation, v = p + y – m, v = velocity p=prices y = GDP and m = supply of money. If prices stay stable, Y increases. If Y is stable, inflation increases.

      1. William Mougayar

        can’t someone run a simulation of what would happen if bitcoin ownership and consumer transactions were totally distributed? will that remove the supply/demand aspect?what i’m not able to understand is: does the price of bitcoin need to continue going up while it is being more widely adopted?

  9. pointsnfigures

    Do they take it at Walmart yet?

  10. pointsnfigures

    Question: How would more transactions with existing supply contribute to equilibrium? Don’t we need more supply of actual bitcoin to keep up with demand? That seems to be a mining problem not a transactional one. (And I stand behind my previous comments that a clearinghouse and futures market would stabilize the currency)

    1. fredwilson

      hoarding is the problem

  11. JimHirshfield

    Sounds like an interesting endeavor. I will sit it out. Frankly, not much of a difference in this than if you asked me to buy my holiday gifts with Euros or Rupees…which I won’t. Don’t mean to be a sour puss.

    1. someone

      I’m more interested in Coin than Bitcoin.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Let’s figure a way to bring back true barter.

        1. kidmercury

          that would be awesome, but i wonder how an intermediary would profit from that….seems like it might best be executed by CL, or a similar type of business willing to give away that portion without charging an intermediary fee

      2. JimHirshfield

        Solid gold

        1. ShanaC


      3. fredwilson

        extending the current credit card system is fine if you want to extend the current credit card system

    2. Aaron Klein

      This almost resulted in another Noceragram.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Let ‘er rip. 😉

  12. JamesHRH

    This is the best example ever of you being you and that being non-normal.There is no chance I am touching bitcoin until it is steadier than Rob Ford on a Friday night.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Wife: “You bought WHAT???”James: “I’m sorry, I was in a drunken stupor and BTC was trading soooo high”

      1. JLM

        .The Drunken Stupor Defense has now been codified into a legitimate defense of…………………………………………………anything.It is the best recent Canadian import to the US rivaling Molson’s in my book.Of course, I am currently in a drunken stupor.JLM.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Cheers. Just stay off the crack.

        2. JamesHRH

          Toronto Sun (city tabloid) has had a great headline run:- ‘Stupourman Loses His Powers’ (after Friday’s meeting)- ‘ ICRAQ War’ after yesterdays Kuwait war analogy speechThere is a lot to be concerned about here, if you are taking notes on modern political strategy.The Fords always talk in absolutes, make outlandish claims in support of their position or to undermine others & there is, at this point, no particular sense that it is not working for them.I don’t think it will…but it will be worth watching.

          1. JLM

            .It is a commentary on how stupid the electorate really is in both the US and Canada — one more argument for my underlying endgame: MERGER of our two great nations with a bit of Mexico thrown in for spice.JLM.

      2. Elia Freedman

        That’s the “my dog ate my homework” excuse for people old enough to drink, right?

        1. pointsnfigures

          Wait until we forget to take our Alzheimer’s drugs.

          1. Elia Freedman

            That’s for the over 70 crowd.

          2. pointsnfigures

            We’re over 70??!

          3. Elia Freedman

            Take your meds! You can’t even remember how old you are.

        2. JimHirshfield

          Yes. But you didn’t hear it from me.

      3. JamesHRH

        ‘I was high, BTC was high it was all so awesome’ will definitely not fly with my lovely soul mate!

  13. Richard

    Why would anyone spend a currency today that he or she believes will be worth more tomorrow? Use the currency that is devaluing, the dollar.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Because it helps get more people into the ecosystem, and those who have vested interest in it will gain benefit from it. That’s why we have all kinds of people promoting it (even if there are other underlying benefits to it being successful) – including Fred and USV of course.

      1. Richard

        The public choosing to take a loss today for the betterment of tomorrow is actually quite noble (not Nobel 🙂 )

        1. Matt A. Myers

          So why not setup a system where the prospectors don’t get rewarded for being the early adopters and holding onto Bitcoin? I think this system is possible because you can track the movement of Bitcoin (e.g. it’s known which Bitcoin the FBI currently own, AFAIK or heard? This could be completely wrong, I still don’t have a clear conception of how Bitcoin works).It might have to be an opt-in system or curated, so users will only trade with other active users – and not prospectors.I think this would increase adoption rates, and reduce the fluxuation a lot.Edit: I know this is a bit off tangent from your comment

    2. kidmercury


    3. pointsnfigures

      Classical expectation theory. Robert Lucas, University of Chicago. Nobel.

    4. fredwilson

      unless it is worth less. which is the case today. thankfully

    5. Frank Traylor

      Wait, I thought a historic high in a volatile currency was the time to sell. I guess I have this speculation thing all wrong?

  14. Jac

    Am I the only one here feeling that we are near a Ponzi Scheme ? The first entrants will exit richer because all the followers will get …

    1. kidmercury


    2. JLM

      .When one looks at a chart of bitcoin, it is pretty damn hard to embrace that this is a stable modicum of exchange.It may have many merits but stability?JLM.

      1. fredwilson

        give it time

  15. JLM

    .One cold night in early December, I am sitting in my PJs, fire in the fireplace crackling with glee, getting ready to dispense with my Christmas shopping.I have scoured Amazon and LL Bean and I have my list complete.I have checked it twice and I have factored in who has been naughty and nice.Fred has been nice. William not so nice. Naughty. Nice. Naughty. Nice. [Just kidding.]Now tell me all the reasons why Bitcoin is going to make this a better transaction as I hit the ENTER button time and time again. Please.JLM.

    1. ShanaC

      I should tell you LL Bean makes the best slippers ever. So warm and fluffy 🙂

      1. JLM

        .I worship LL Bean.If you have never worn their flannel lined jeans, then you have not yet lived.They once sent me — gratis — a pair of their Maine guide hunting boots when I was thrashing along in the cold wet of the DMZ in Korea in the 1970s.Boots, socks and no bill of any kind.I would push a peanut up Congress Avenue with my nose naked if LL Bean asked me to do so.JLM.

        1. LE

          I’m very lucky to have a bean store in the same center that there is an Apple store. I got their catalog the other day and saw a number of things that I will go there and buy from them.After years of buying levis I finally converted to ll bean jeans.

          1. JLM

            .Get the flannel lined jeans. They are so comfortable and warm.When I don’t want to go to Colorado to ski, my wife routinely lures me with the promise of being able to wear my lined jeans.They are that good.JLM.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        I get almost all my clothing from LL Bean. It lasts forever, if it does not last forever they will replace it. If the replacement does not last, they will replace it again.I miss living in Maine. Maybe I should move back.

    2. fredwilson

      you are voting for things with your behaviorsusing credit cards on amazon is a vote for the status quoi don’t like the status quo and want something new and better

      1. JF

        New ≠ Better.Bitcoin in itself is flawed. Deflationary and a stock-story rather than a value-added product That’s alright, we’ll learn. I’m going to sit this one out and wait for the bubble to burst and wait for a better version to come through.

  16. ShanaC

    Don’t take this the wrong way Fred, but I was going to rewrite the post to use gold every time the word Bitcoin is used.Digital Gold is just a weird idea, even weirder than using actual gold.:/

  17. kidmercury

    it would be a worthwhile exercise to consider how you can make this offer more appealing, aside from saying “those who want the bitcoin economy to succeed.” why would people want it to succeed? aside from entrepreneurs and investors, why would the average person care?the answer to that question is a political one.

  18. kirklove

    The challenge is instability in the value of BC. Read this morning that a web designer took payment of $10,000 in BC in 2010 for a project. He promptly converted it to real $$$. Had it kept it it would be worth over 3 million right now.So, there is little incentive for me to buy something with BC right now, when holding on to it can yield a rather hefty (and ludicrous) return.

    1. fredwilson

      unless is could collapse at any momentoh, wait, it is collapsing at this very moment 🙂

      1. kirklove

        Going down, yes. Collapsing no. The BC I bought in early Sept are still 6X what I bought them at. 😉

  19. John McGrath

    I thought it was mostly heroin and guns that were bought with bitcoin.Ok, I’m in. But my family is going to be startled.

      1. fredwilson

        love the soundcloud embed. and i love that song.”dad, get me out of this”

  20. jonathan hegranes

    This is perfect… Last night I was thinking of selling some of my bit coin when it struck me to just buy shit with them.No capital gains, etc, etc.Just taking advantage of the strongest currency I own.

    1. Richard

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but uou do not avoid capital gains by purchasing things with Bitcoin.

      1. jonathan hegranes

        So next time I use my leftover RMB or EUR, that’s subject to cap gains?Is everyone who travels abroad and transacts in a foreign currency subject to cap gains and losses??Without being a CPA, that seems silly.

        1. LE

          Don’t ask the CPA.If you ask the CPA ask verbally.

        2. Richard

          First $200 is excluded, from thereon it is either cap gains or income.

      2. LE

        I can’t imagine many people who have bought and sold bitcoins that are going to report the gain anyway. If you are in the regular business of doing something then it’s kind of hard to ignore paying taxes on obviously taxable transactions. But if you have a few small or de-mininis transactions that you make money on seems like it’s under the radar to me. Not to mention the fact that some people are using bitcoins for illegal activities to begin with.But in a sense the parent comment is correct in a way. You are definitely more under the radar by taking a gain and buying things than by converting to cash with more of an obvious paper trail.Many cash businesses operate this way. They buy inventory with cash and they sell things for cash. And they pocket the difference and don’t pay taxes. It’s easier than if you buy inventory on the books and/or sell on the books where there is a paper trail.

        1. Richard

          Probably, but if you are smart offset the capital gain with a capital loss.

          1. LE

            If you are smart you don’t have a capital loss to offset.To get more serious the time that I would have spent in the past to figure out ways to save taxes are long gone. I try to spend the same time figuring out ways to make money rather than saving money or getting every last ounce of tax deductions.I’m not saying everyone can do this of course. If you have a job with a fixed income then the way to make more is to figure out ways to save on taxes and expenses. But I watched some people growing up obsessed over cutting expenses and ignore instead spending time on things that would create more income enough to float all expense boats.

    2. fredwilson


  21. Henry Glover

    If there was as much transactional activity as there is speculative activity, there would be more supply of Bitcoins in the market (as retailers who receive them turn them into their local currencies)In theory retailers don’t have to convert to local currency to achieve that effect – if they can one day pay expenses and buy other goods with Bitcoins then it increases the velocity of money which will have the same effect to the supply. I hope it is widely adopted so that effect is achieved.Quantity Theory of Money: Money in Circulation * Velocity = Price * Transactions

    1. pointsnfigures

      Speculative activity is not a “bad” thing. Speculators provide the grease that makes the market move. Increasing speculation will tighten bids/offers and decrease slippage.

      1. fredwilson

        yup, learned that at wharton in 1985 and it has been stuck in the frontal lobe of my brain ever since

    2. fredwilson

      in time, that could happen. but for now, i think they will convert because they have to pay their expenses in their local currency

      1. Henry Glover

        It would be cool is if there was a service that functioned as a Bitcoin Bill Pay service similar to what banks offer. If the company receiving payment doesn’t accept bitcoin then when a request to pay is sent by the user bitcoins are converted to USD and a check is sent. The system would have a lot of moving parts but would definitely encourage legitimate spending and selling of bitcoins. #Coinbase feature request. With most large banks charging checking service fees anyway it would be a matter of structuring the system to be reasonably priced.

  22. Pete Griffiths

    By the time most of Fred’s readers move in this direction China will own all bitcoin. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      that could well happen.look at this

      1. Pete Griffiths

        That is EXTREMELy cool. Thanks for the link. :)I think any country where it is hard to find solid investments and hoarding the native currency is risky but there are tight exchange controls is finding bitcoin attractive. Argentina is another one that’s eating BC.

  23. Semil Shah

    Indirectly, a company like Gyft ( can help people with Bitcoins (US only) convert them directly to merchant gift cards.

  24. Guest

    Just a test comment, going to delete this…

  25. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Fun! A good way to get into Bitcoin for me…

  26. Guest

    Would love to try bitcoin black friday.

  27. Satish Mummareddy

    Love to try out bitcoin black friday.

  28. Capitalistic

    Bitcoin is not a currency. Most people, globally, would accept an oil tanker full of oil than a bitcoin.

  29. Douglas Crets

    Not sure I have $800 per bitcoin on hand to buy a $50 bike seat cover.

    1. fredwilson

      bitcoin is subdivisible

      1. Perry Ismangil

        … which is hard to do with the current tools: Buy my £7 phone cases for 0.00000xxx BTC – did I get the number of zeros right – or millibtc or microbtc – gaaah…

  30. Perry Ismangil

    Get Etsy to easily accept Bitcoins, by enabling a real time pricing mechanism. Currently my stumbling block is: how do I price goods?

    1. pointsnfigures

      Don’t price in Bitcoin. Price in a currency that Bitcoin can convert to

      1. Perry Ismangil

        After reading a bit more I think I understand. Bitcoins works alongside national currencies – slightly less ambitious 😛

    2. fredwilson

      working on it

  31. Brad van Leeuwen

    My personal view is that Bitcoin is binary – it’s either worth a lot and significantly more than it is today, or its worth nothing at all. US money supply (M2) is around USD 10.5 trillion and therefore if all of that was converted into Bitcoin, assuming all 21 million bitcoins exist, the implied price would be around USD 0.5 million per bitcoin. And there’s a lot of M2 out there that isn’t USD. That’s if you buy the Bitcoin story.For me, there are many reasons why you probably shouldn’t. I think a currency that is finite is analogous to a deflationary economy and therefore their use is discouraged, there are an unlimited number of Bitcoin substitutes because there are no barriers to entry, there are significant barriers to any serious companies adopting Bitcoin in any meaningful way (even if you ignore regulation), trust is a huge issue and the whole system is reliant on encryption that to my understanding cannot easily be upgraded and may one day be defeated.In short, I think it’s nothing more than a means of settling illegal transactions, a vehicle for speculation or a protest against banks and the governments that support them. I really hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s only a matter of time before the bubble busts.For more, see

  32. Michael Dempsey

    Although you can make the argument for any currency, it seems like now would be the time to shop with bitcoin. With the value at all time highs, might be nice to look back and have bought a new $600 gadget for a PV of $200 in a months time if BTCUSD falls.

  33. bcmorrison

    Unfortunately, business abhors instability and Bitcoin as a currency is complete chaos. The experiment in digital currencies will fail until they are somehow pegged to something that is stable. Example, maybe a consortium of retailers that agree $400 US / 1bitcoin, revisited bi-annually.