While Bitcoin is still at best a controversial form of currency, some are looking to get in on the market of Bitcoin holders out there by offering up one of the greatest inducements around: the gift card. A coalition of Coinbase and eGifter is getting together to offer the useful treat, and allowing users to pay for same in Bitcoins.
The whole thing got started when Coinbase added the ability to buy and sell via SMS, and then dropped the fees for first-time merchants. But getting eGifter involved in the mix opened up the number of uses overall for this platform, and in turn brought in over 100 different brands for the mix, including popular stores like Home Depot, CVS, GameStop, and several more. The duo then branched out into Bitcoin, and in a pretty big way.
Not only is the coalition of services now taking Bitcoin, but eGifter is also taking it all a step further by bringing the Coinbase Wallet into its own lineup, including the Web platform and both iOS and Android apps. This in turn allows users to tie a virtual currency account to a regular physical bank account, which makes moving funds between the two easy. Sufficiently easy, in fact, that Coinbase notes more than 138,000 transactions every single month, and boasts over 200,000 active users.
This is a combination that's likely going to give some regulators fits. With some places like Thailand completely banning the Bitcoin, and other places indicating at the very least regulation afoot, for private companies to be getting involved on the side that actually takes Bitcoin is going to be troublesome. After all, it was one thing for governments to put bans or huge restrictions in place when the common thought of Bitcoin was that it was some kind of weird hacker currency, but if people start accepting Bitcoin on a wide basis, start using it every day, it becomes less an abstract concept and more a concrete reality. Banning or otherwise restricting something almost no one uses is much easier than trying to do the same thing to something a lot of people use daily.
Of course, it may not quite catch on. If it doesn't go much farther than this, Bitcoin will likely still be just a comparative blip to most users, not the kind of thing that most even think about. But if Bitcoin does catch on, if people start trading in Bitcoin on any kind of regular or expansive basis, then it's going to likely raise some problems in a lot of places. Only time will tell if the Coinbase / eGifter coalition manages to help raise awareness of the Bitcoin and from there help turn it into a viable currency, but there's likely going to be a lot more wrangling over this issue before too much more time has passed.
Edited by Alisen Downey
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