Before Balenciaga last May, Showroomprivé, Microsoft, Tesla, Expedia and Unicef announced that they would accept payments in crypto-currencies. Before quickly giving up, or refusing today to deliver any figures
In May 2022, Balenciaga offered itself a global buzz at little cost. By announcing that it accepts payments in bitcoins and ethereums in some of its stores in the United States, the French luxury brand generated dozens of articles in the international press. A great operation that the fashion house is not the first to carry out, Tesla being an emblematic example. But behind these announcements, some of which date back to 2014, what about the reality of payment in crypto? To find out, Le Journal du Net contacted 12 companies and organizations* from various sectors who have announced that they accept purchases in bitcoins or other crypto-currencies. Responses were rare (only 6 of them kindly gave us partial information) and testify to the lack of success of this method of payment. But is it a surprise?
Online clothing sales sites are the precursors of luxury brands. In 2014, when it had 16.2 million members, Showroomprivé announced in September 2014 to accept bitcoins for their customers who wish to pay for their purchases. “Even if the market is not yet mature in France, we are betting on the future”, indicates at the time Thierry Petit, co-founder who has since sold his shares. A failed bet according to the announcement made by the French company in December 2017: bitcoins are no longer a payment method available on the site. Contacted by the JDN, Showroomprivé refuses to communicate the volume of transactions carried out in bitcoin over this period or any quantified data on this subject.
From 2014, Microsoft accepts bitcoin as payment for its App Store, Windows Phone Store newly Microsoft Store and Xbox Live users, now Xbox. All you need is a bitcoin wallet to deposit crypto funds into a Microsoft account and complete purchases with it. Only two years later, in 2016, Microsoft announced that it was abandoning bitcoins. The JDN sought to know the reasons why the company changed its strategy. To which she replied that she does not communicate on this strictly confidential information…
In February 2021, You’re here invests $1.5 billion in bitcoin. In the process, in March, its founder, Elon Musk, announced that it would accept payments in bitcoins via Twitter. It clarifies that bitcoins will be kept in their cryptocurrency form and not converted into fiat currency. He tweet also that the bitcoin payment function will be available by the end of the year outside the United States. Turnaround: in mid-June 2021, the boss of Tesla hit the headlines by suspending payments in bitcoin, due to unreasonable use of energy during mining. However, the seller of electric vehicles does not abandon the use of cryptocurrency as a payment option. The brand’s derivative products can only be purchased in dogecoin, a cryptocurrency highly valued by Elon Musk. You can now buy a 750 ml carafe in the shape of a lightning bolt for 2450 dogecoins, or 161.7 dollars.
Through a partnership with Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, the travel agency Expedia offers its customers to pay in bitcoins from 2014. In May 2018, the holiday booking site stopped accepting this means of payment. Expedia Group’s interest in cryptocurrencies does not stop there, however. In July 2020, Travala.com, a travel agency that allows payments in no less than 30 different cryptocurrencies, among them bitcoin, ethereum and binance coin, and Expedia Partner Solutions, a subsidiary of the Expedia group, form a partnership. By integrating the Expedia application programming interface named Rapid, Travala.com adds 700,000 hotels and accommodations from Expedia to its catalog and allows its customers to book them by paying in crypto-assets.
In 2019, theUnicef launches CryptoFund, a fund that allows it to receive, hold and disburse bitcoin and ethereum. Funds denominated in cryptocurrencies are invested in companies that develop software and solutions to address challenges faced by children and young people around the world. Unicef, by virtue of its status as a humanitarian association, is the only organization contacted by the JDN which transmits precise information on crypto transfers. Since the launch of the fund, 20.12 bitcoins, approximately $440,185 and 2,095.25 ethereum, or $3.237 million, have been invested: 73.2 ethereum in Rentadrone, a Chilean image analysis company for agriculture or 1.27 bitcoins in the Nigerian application Afrilearn which makes learning based on West African study programs accessible.
There are crypto credit cards that allow you to pay for everyday purchases without the selling company adopting 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 corresponding currency. In exchange, withdrawal fees are charged. Paying with this card also allows you to generate cashbacks of up to 4% on Coinbase or 8% on Binance and even 100% on Crypto.com for Spotify and Netflix subscriptions. MasterCard announced in mid-June 2022 the release of a credit card based on cryptographic guarantees in partnership with Nexo, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. It is accepted at all points of sale that accept Mastercard. Without the sellers even noticing, some payments use blockchain technology.
Failure of use cases
Companies adopt them and then abandon them. “In 2014-2016, there were no accounting standards or tax rules to regulate digital assets,” said Romain Saguy, chief revenue officer at Coinhouse, a cryptocurrency trading platform. Since then, legislation to regulate them has been adopted. Before the lightning network, the number of bitcoin transactions was limited, making it impossible to use it as a means of payment. This new layer to the network has enabled the number of bitcoin transactions to increase by 400% since 2021. The fact remains that “in France, payment on the domestic market in crypto-currencies is of no interest, it is better follow a logic of investment rather than payment”, observes Romain Saguy.
*Air Baltic, Domino’s Pizza, Expedia, La Croix rouge, Lamborghini, McDonald’s, McLaren, Microsoft, Showroomprivé, Starbucks, Tesla, Unicef