March 20, 2016
Bitcoin has been something that I have long kept an eye on but never used. I made a Coinbase account years ago, and even had .0001 BTC in my wallet since trying TryBTC nearly 4 years ago.
I never really tried to use Bitcoin for anything until this week. I knew there were some merchants that accepted it as payment, but I always thought it would be harder to checkout.
Louis CK released a new project, “Horace and Pete,” online for purchase and he allowed customers to buy it with basically everything possible: PayPal, Bitcoin, or Dwolla.
Louis CK’s content was only a few bucks, so this seemed like the perfect trial run to get some Bitcoin and complete a transaction.
I used Coinbase and Circle and bought $5 worth of Bitcoin in each app. I used two apps to see if the experience would be constant and if the process would be the same. I was curious to see if Coinbase, which is a little bit of a leader in the space, would handle anything differently than a smaller app.
The process was basically to add a debit card and order a certain amount of Bitcoin, which would then show up in your in-app wallet.
The thing that I didn’t think about was that the value of Bitcoin changes, so the value of my wallet changed in a day. It was not a huge swing, but the value of my wallet did go up.
The checking out process was surprisingly easy. You basically get a 15-minute window to send the Bitcoin to a certain address. You have to have a few tabs open to complete the process, but it rivals PayPal in simplicity of checkout. There are some things that you have to be aware of, such as making sure the address is correct, and sending Bitcoins of the correct value can be a little hard to get your head around. For example, 0.012909 BTC was around $5.50 at the time of purchase.
Overall, the process was surprisingly really easy and quick. However, the transaction history of the money sent from the wallet is just a unique address for the company that I sent money to. It makes it a little harder to keep track of what you spent your Bitcoin on.
Bitcoin wallets don’t offer the normal securities that we are used to with most of our other financial accounts. Make sure that when you sign up, you take advantage of two-factor authentication, which will send you a one-time password via a text message.
I liked using and interacting with Bitcoin. It was a different way to handle money and make transactions. I think there is something there with it. It felt more secure while also being a relatively simple process. However, it is still something that would need a little explanation before it could be adapted for the mainstream.
I am going to keep using the Bitcoin wallet in certain situations. I think it makes a lot of sense for some types of transactions. I think that it makes some transactions easier.
I would love to see something that could make the checkout process even more painless, or something like PayPal where the browser knows your default Bitcoin wallet and will open up a prompt to allow you send the money to that unique address.
During this whole transition, the one thing that I kept trying to think is could I use Bitcoin for all of my transactions?
That is something that I think I would like to try for a week. Where are the holes and where are the limitations with using it? Is it a safety concern? Is there a lack of merchants? How does the flexible nature of the currency affect me? These are things that I want to explore and want to dive into. Bitcoin does feel like the future of money, but are we ready for it?
Written by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter