Shopping at Major Retailers With Crypto Just Got a Whole Lot Easier
A bunch of high-profile retailers now can accept payments in crypto, thanks to a new partnership, and a new mobile app that spawned from that partnership.
The likes of Barns & Noble, Baskin Robbins, GameStop, Nordstrom, Regal and Whole Foods, together with many others, have decided to reconfigure their digital scanners so that they may accept payments in various cryptocurrencies.
They will accept payments in Bitcoin, but also in Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and stablecoin Gemini Dollar.
It will all make sense once you realize who is behind the announcement – Flexa (a payments startup) and cryptocurrency exchange Gemini (owned by the Winklevoss twins).
In a blog post announcing the partnership, Tyler Winklevoss said that a new app, called SPEDN (the D and N switcharoo will never get old, will it) is now available in the Apple Store for iOS, which consumers can use to spend crypto at the above mentioned retailers.
In the blog post, it was argued that the current legacy systems of credit and debit cards are ‘overly complex’ and ‘expensive’, with crypto stepping in to ‘profoundly improve the payment experience’.
Winklevoss also said that retailers pay billions of dollars each year for processing costs, so SPEDN and the underlying infrastructure was built to cut costs and improve security, without the need for new payment hardware. Retailers will be paid in fiat, not crypto.
“We believe that not only will this result in cost-savings to the merchant, but to the consumer in the long-term as well,” he added.
The media are claiming the system actually works. Fortune calls it “the first widespread, low-friction opportunity for consumers to shop with cryptocurrency,” saying it is potentially a “big deal”.
Promotional video of the app:
Meanwhile, retailers participating in the Flexa service do not comment on the matter. The reason for the silence is because the crypto payments are still an experiment, Fortune said, citing a person familiar with the project.
The community also seems to be in line with this sentiment as well, with many people talking about the project in superlatives. Some of the rebukes they have is why Litecoin wasn’t included, and why Bitcoin Cash was.
So much news to keep up with this morning 😃 but I saw @Gemini using SPEDN at Starbucks. ☕️📲Obviously they paid with $GUSD… but I have to say without #Litecoin as on option I won’t be using it yet. Hopefully it’s in the works to be added as a crypto payment option soon!! 😎👍 pic.twitter.com/X8UzvTdn8G
— Kat🍍🍍 (@RedKatLife) May 13, 2019
The inclusion of BCH in the Spedn offering should be downright embarrassing for the larger crypto community.
— tinkering_at_random (@born2tinkr) May 13, 2019
Some community members argue that Bitcoin may not be the best option, given its volatility and network speed, compared to some other cryptocurrencies. Winklevoss sees the Gemini Dollar as the solution to the issue.
“Flexa’s payment solution provides users the ability to engage in the “spend” use case and benefit from the freedom, privacy, and security provided by cryptocurrency,” he wrote. “Additionally, the Gemini Dollar allows you to spend your dollars on the blockchain without worrying about price volatility.”
The full list of partners is as follows: Barns & Noble, Baskin Robbins, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Caribou Coffee, Crate&Barrel, Express, GameStop, Jamba Juice, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot & Office Max, Petco, Regal, Ulta Beauty and Whole Foods, with Fortune saying Starbucks is an unofficial partner, as well.