Bitcoin burning a hole in your pocket? Probably. If so, a new site has popped up to help you spend your digital currency during this hectic holiday shopping week: “Bitcoin Black Friday.” Starting on Friday, November 29th, a growing number of online retailers will be offering special deals just for Bitcoin users.
Frankly, a good many of the offers are fairly gimmicky – you can use bitcoins to buy a bacon-flavored lollipop or a ticket to space on Virgin Atlantic, for example. That’s not really going to help you with your holiday shopping list, though. However, there are some decent choices on the site, too, but for obvious reasons, they tend to be a little more geeky in nature. Adafruit, for instance, is offering 10% off of everything in stock, including Raspberry Pi. Reddit is selling Reddit Gold. The Humble Bundle has deals up for grabs. There are also software, electronics, domain name and hosting deals, and so on.
Mobile gift card app Gyft is one of the better deals available, giving Bitcoin shoppers 4 percentage points back when you buy gift cards from its supported retailer partners, like Target, Gamestop, Gap, Zappos, Nike, Old Navy, and hundreds of others. If you were stocking up on gift cards anyway, that’s worth taking advantage of. (For what it’s worth, PayPal users will get 3% back, while credit card users get 2% back, the company says.)
Overall, though, the deal quality on “Bitcoin Black Friday” is a good indicator of where Bitcoin is in terms of mainstream adoption. That is, not so much. There really aren’t big-name retailers on board with the digital currency at this time. And for obvious reasons, big-name tech companies like Google, Amazon and eBay aren’t going to play along either, as they all have their own payment mechanisms to push (Google Wallet, PayPal and Amazon’s one-click checkout experience, respectively).
But the site has the backing of large number of Bitcoin supporters, including digital wallet Coinbase, which is waving all fees on Friday so Bitcoin users can buy, sell, send and receive bitcoins all day. The site lists logos of other Bitcoin backers who have either contributed funds or assisted significantly in outreach to the Bitcoin community, including SV Angel, Bitcoin Investment Trust, Ribbit Capital, Bitypay, Coinbase, Gyft, PrivateInternetAccess, BitGive, and BitDazzle.
Internet activists Fight for the Future are also involved trying to get the word out about the Bitcoin Black Friday efforts, somewhat radicalizing the event by pointing to Bitcoin’s potential to be disruptive to the status quo. “Bitcoin is an amazing new technology, but because it challenges established industries, it will face serious political opposition–especially in the U.S. where those industries are strongest,” the message reads on the project’s site. “Bitcoin will only be safe once millions of people rely on it every day.”
Of course, Bitcoin won’t reach those mainstream “millions” while speculators drive the price of the crytocurrency to crazy new heights. That doesn’t discount its long-term potential though as a money transfer platform, though. But as a payment mechanism for online shopping? While it’s great that there are over 441 retailers on board with Bitcoin Black Friday, it would be better if there were more deals mainstream users would actually want to buy. Instead of say, Bitcoin t-shirts, stickers, glasses, mining equipment….and, oh yeah, more Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Black Friday movement is still growing, however. Earlier this week, it was touting that 250 retailers had signed up, and today there are nearly 200 more. Evan Greer of Fight the Future also tells us the site has seen over 30,000 unique visitors to date, almost half of which arrived yesterday. Meanwhile, over 4,000 people have signed up to get an email when the deals go live.