Before Balenciaga last May, Showroomprivé, Microsoft, Tesla, Expedia and Unicef announced that they would accept payments in cryptocurrencies. Before quickly giving up or refusing to provide any numbers today
In May 2022, Balenciaga offered itself worldwide fame for little money. By announcing that it accepts payments in bitcoin and ethereum at some of its stores in the US, the French luxury brand has generated dozens of articles in the international press. A magnificent operation that the fashion house is not the first to carry out, and Tesla is a case in point. But what is behind these announcements, some of which date back to 2014, and what about the reality of paying in cryptocurrencies? To find out, Le Journal du Net contacted 12 companies and organizations* from various sectors that have announced that they accept purchases in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The responses were sparse (only 6 of them kindly provided us with partial information) and testify to the inefficiency of this payment method. But is it a surprise?
Online clothing sales websites are the forerunners of luxury brands. In 2014, when Showroomprivé had 16.2 million members, it was announced in September 2014 that it would accept bitcoin for its customers wishing to pay for their purchases. “Even if the market in France is not yet mature, we are betting on the future,” notes Thierry Petit at the time, a co-founder who has since sold his shares. Failed bet according to an announcement made by a French company in December 2017: Bitcoin is no longer a payment method on the site. By contacting JDN, Showroomprivé refuses to disclose the volume of transactions carried out in bitcoins during this period, or any quantitative data on this matter.
Since 2014, Microsoft has been accepting Bitcoin as payment for its App Store, Windows Phone Store, recently Microsoft Store, and Xbox Live, now Xbox users. All you need is a bitcoin wallet to deposit crypto to your Microsoft account and make purchases with it. Only two years later, in 2016, Microsoft announced that it was phasing out bitcoin. JDN was keen to find out the reasons why the company changed its strategy. To which she replied that she did not communicate on this strictly confidential information …
In February 2021, Tesla will invest $1.5 billion in bitcoin. At the same time, in March, its founder Elon Musk announced that he would accept payments in bitcoins via Twitter. It specifies that bitcoins will be held in the form of a cryptocurrency and not convertible to fiat currency. He also tweeted that the Bitcoin payment feature will be available outside the US by the end of the year. Turnover: In mid-June 2021, the Tesla boss made headlines by suspending bitcoin payments due to the unreasonable use of energy during mining. However, the electric car seller is not refusing to use cryptocurrency as a payment method. Derivatives of the brand can only be purchased in dogecoin, a cryptocurrency highly valued by Elon Musk. You can now buy a 750 ml lightning-shaped decanter for 2450 dogecoins or $161.7.
Through a partnership with Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, Expedia travel agency has been offering its customers payment in bitcoin since 2014. In May 2018, the vacation booking site stopped accepting this payment method. However, the Expedia Group’s interest in cryptocurrencies does not end there. In July 2020, Travala.com, a travel agency that allows payments in no less than 30 different cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ethereum and binance coin, and Expedia Partner Solutions, a subsidiary of the Expedia group, form a partnership. By integrating an Expedia application programming interface called Rapid, Travala.com adds 700,000 Expedia hotels and accommodations to its catalog and allows its customers to book them by paying with crypto assets.
In 2019, Unicef launched CryptoFund, a fund that allows Bitcoin and Ethereum to be received, held and distributed. Funds denominated in cryptocurrencies are invested in companies developing software and solutions to solve problems faced by children and youth around the world. Unicef, by virtue of its status as a humanitarian association, is the only organization contacted by the JDN to provide accurate information about cryptocurrency transfers. Since the launch of the fund, 20.12 bitcoins have been invested, approximately $440,185 and 2,095.25 ethereum, or $3.237 million: 73.2 bitcoins in Rentadrone, a Chilean agricultural image analysis company, or 1.27 bitcoins in a Nigerian app Afrilearn which does learning based on West. African study programs are available.
There are crypto credit cards that allow you to pay for everyday purchases without the merchant company using a crypto payment method. The exchange platform takes care of converting the cryptocurrencies of the user’s wallet in order to make the payment in the respective currency. In return, a withdrawal fee is charged. Paying with this card also allows you to get up to 4% cashback on Coinbase or 8% on Binance and even 100% on Crypto.com for Spotify and Netflix subscriptions. In mid-June 2022, Mastercard announced the issuance of a crypto-guaranteed credit card in partnership with Nexo, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. It is accepted at all points of sale that accept Mastercard. Merchants don’t even notice that some payments use blockchain technology.
Use case rejection
Companies accept them and then reject them. “In 2014-2016, there were no accounting standards or tax rules to regulate digital assets,” said Romain Sagy, chief revenue officer of Coinhouse, a cryptocurrency trading platform. Since then, a law has been passed to regulate them. Before the advent of the Lightning network, the number of bitcoin transactions was limited, making it impossible to use them as a means of payment. This new layer on the network has allowed for a 400% increase in bitcoin transactions since 2021. The fact remains: “in France, payments in the domestic market in cryptocurrencies are not of interest, it is better to follow the logic of investment, and not payment,” notes Romain Sagy.
*Air Baltic, Domino’s Pizza, Expedia, La Croix rouge, Lamborghini, McDonald’s, McLaren, Microsoft, Showroomprivé, Starbucks, Tesla, Unicef