Let’s spend it! Bitcoin and its seven alternatives
As not every cryptocurrency is designed for buying goods and services, it's worth taking a look at the most popular ones in terms of spending.
In mid-January, there were more than 11,500 venues where it is possible to spend Bitcoin, according to coinmap.org data. This is currently the largest network of crypto merchants. However, Bitcoin is sometimes criticized for its slowness in transaction and high fees, which are putting off some early adopters hitherto loyal to the almost decade-old currency. One may expect these problems will be solved in the future.
In either case, because of Bitcoin's popularity and, up to now, resilience, a wide range of companies have opened up their businesses to transactions using the currency. These range from travel websites to car manufacturers.
For those who like the original concept of Bitcoin, but not the difficulties that have emerged since it became more widely-used (high transaction fees, the slowness of the network, and so on), a separate team has developed Bitcoin Cash.
Born in August of 2017, this cryptocurrency has the aim of being a lighter, more nimble, and more easily scalable alternative to its older brother.
In mid-January, there were 1,040 websites supporting use of Bitcoin Cash, according to acceptbitcoin.cash data.
Dash, or Digital Cash, takes the advantages of the other currencies and repackages them in an easy-to-follow framework, with speedy ordering and stronger anonymity at its centre.
Over 50 online stores are listed on the Dash website as accredited merchants of the cryptocurrency, while there are seven online casinos, five other gaming companies, and 11 web and graphic design agencies who are mentioned as accepting Dash payments. Dash's own Merchants' Map lists 558 separate resources available from 344 locations around the world.
Litecoin says, it "features faster transaction confirmation times and improved storage efficiency than the leading math-based currency."
There are plenty of merchants cited on the Litecoin forum, while Cointal says it is the world's first P2P multi-cryptocurrency marketplace, and brings additional flexibility when it comes to using Litecoin along with a whole host of other cryptocurrencies.
Monero's main focus is security for the end-user, with a promise that its encryption ensures that sending and receiving addresses, as well as amounts sent or received, are hidden. Transactions are confidential and untraceable, with the currency's decentralized development community working tirelessly on finding new ways of keeping the currency's holders safe from any form of spying or surveillance.
Monero's own site lists 34 service providers who are happy to take payments in that format - these include Azur Samui, a luxury apartment development in Koh Samui, Thailand, and K9 Satisfaction, a dog training company in northeast Illinois. There are also 13 manufacturers and sellers of goods listed, along with five iGaming sites.
Another cryptocurrency that promises shielding for transactions is Zcash, which aims to keep its users safe and secure, also protecting their identity.
Zcash currently has a limited scope when it comes to using it for the purchase or sale of goods and services, though it is possible to use a variety of exchanges to trade it for bitcoins if you want to broaden your spending possibilities.
Bytecoin is anonymous and decentralized, using open-source code. Private transactions are provided by the Bytecoin Network, and there are no additional fees for transactions. That last point is a plus over Bitcoin, whose fees have seen users migrate to other currencies in recent months. To make sure of a prudent process, all transactions take place every 120 seconds.
Bytecoin says that it has seven merchants that it classes as its most popular for the trading of the currency for goods and services.
Verge claims to improve upon the original Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions are anonymous and secure on a decentralized network, with users' IP addresses obfuscated. Another reason why Verge looks like a very promising cryptocurrency is the Simple Payment Verification technology, which helps to keep transaction times down to around five seconds.
There are more than 20 merchants that accept this cryptocurrency, according to Verge's official site, and these include a company devoted to producing natural beard products, a hot sauce company, and several media companies.