If you’ve never heard of bitcoin, then get ready, because it may well become a global currency in the next few years. Although tech experts have been espousing the virtues of bitcoin and suggesting it will replace traditional currencies ever since it went live in 2009, today things are changing faster than ever. Now, does this really mean we’ll be pulling out a bitcoin card or tapping a bitcoin app each time we go to a shop or restaurant in the coming years? Probably not. However, the current evidence suggests that more and more online service providers, especially in the entertainment industry, are now turning to bitcoin.
A Secure Universal Payment Option
So, what is bitcoin and why would entertainment companies want to use it? In a nutshell, bitcoin is a virtual currency that’s created, stored and processed online. Each bitcoin and bitcoin transaction is handled by a network of computers which means it’s not only universal, but it isn’t owned by a single entity. Moreover, bitcoin is known as a pseudonymous payment method because users don’t have to divulge any personal information during the payment process.
Put simply, bitcoin is a flexible, secure and efficient payment method that can be used anywhere online without restriction. Unsurprisingly, these benefits have made it the reason entertainment companies are now starting to accept it as a payment method. By putting users on an equal footing, companies don’t have to worry about things such as currency conversion charges or processing costs.
For example, Microsoft has long been on the bitcoin bandwagon for its Xbox Live service. Known as one of the world’s leading gaming hubs, Xbox Live had 48 million active users in 2016 and, unsurprisingly, many of them were based in different countries.
Given that the average user was spending an average of £64 per month back in 2011, it’s safe to say that Microsoft has to handle a lot of international payments. In a bid to streamline the process both for themselves and users, it now accepts bitcoin payments. By logging into their account, players can select the “billing” option and then go Payment options>Microsoft account>redeem bitcoin.
Anonymity is as Valuable as Efficiency
Another section of the entertainment medium that’s embraced bitcoin for similar reasons is iGaming. Covering sports betting, casino gaming and poker, this industry has become popular around the world in recent years, which has given operators the same payment issues as Microsoft. However, one issue betting sites also have to consider is security and anonymity. Because online bettors often make frequent and sometimes large transactions (given the nature of their chosen activity i.e. betting), staying safe is a priority for users.
To address this concern, bitcoin-only betting sites are now flourishing. For example, Sportsbet.io provides a complete sports betting service in bitcoin and nothing else. Regardless of whether the customer is shooting for the 200 mBTC deposit bonus, betting on their favourite sportsperson using “player props” or viewing decimal odds on the Premier League, they can do it all in bitcoin. The benefit of this is that they can stay virtually anonymous from the time they make a deposit to the time they cash out their winnings.
Because they don’t have to input any personal information at any point, it makes it much tougher for a cyber-criminal to steal their details and commit fraud. Moreover, because a criminal couldn’t easily hack into someone’s computer or bank account, read through their transactions and see they enjoy online betting, it means they’re less like to be a target. Indeed, if a criminal knew that someone was always making large financial transactions online, they’d be more inclined to target them. With bitcoin, this becomes much less of an issue.
In short, bitcoin is making online payments safer, less scattered and more efficient. For companies serving international customers who want an easier, more secure way to pay, bitcoin is fantastic. Although it may take some time for every major online operator to make bitcoin its main payment option, the market is certainly changing and that could mean the end of traditional payment methods as we know it.