Cryptocurrency cellphone top-up company Bitrefill has announced it will start selling gift vouchers for Amazon and other brands — effectively opening up Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to almost any item.
Lightning ‘Comes’ to Amazon, Uber, and More
In a press release on July 19, Bitrefill — which became one of the first cryptocurrency businesses to integrate Lightning Network accessibility late last year — said it has “always planned” to offer vouchers.
“With a regular bitcoin payment processor the merchant needs to be involved in many ways with the process which they often don’t have the time or the skills to do well,” CEO Sergej Kotliar commented. He also noted:
When selling a voucher we can control the user experience in [its] entirety, handle all interactions with the end customer, and they easily apply the vouchers themselves.
Bitrefill will initially offer gift cards for Amazon US, Uber, Hotels.com, Google Play, and several others. Payment can be made in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Dash.
Hope For Still-Experimental Lightning
Plans for the move came about in January after Steam, the gaming merchant for which Bitrefill also offers vouchers, announced it would stop accepting direct Bitcoin payments.
Lightning — which is currently live on Bitcoin and Litecoin — in theory, allows users to send transactions almost instantly and for nearly no fee. As Bitcoinist recently reported, however, success rates are low for payments worth more than around five cents.
“Lightning will be a way of future-proofing Bitcoin, to know that we will be able to do fast and cheap transactions for a long time forwards,” Kotliar said, remaining bullish on the technology’s future.
While Bitrefill states its goal is to “allow people to live on cryptocurrency,” the practice is not yet an exact science, with the company setting up a warning system alerting them when an outlet no longer accepts Bitcoin in order to add it to its list of prospective voucher options. “We now have a Google alert set for the words ‘no longer accepts Bitcoin’, it sends a direct email to our business development team,” Kotliar added.
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