The lives of people attempting to live solely on bitcoin just got much easier, at least in the US. 'Social' gift card seller eGifter has started selling cards for retail behemoth Walmart.
eGifter began accepting bitcoin at the beginning of October 2013, and in doing so opened up a new universe of mainstream purchasing options. The company already sells gift cards for over 100 retail outlets in a wide range of categories, including well-known brands like Barnes & Noble, Land's End, Home Depot and CVS Pharmacy.
Even among people who have never set foot in one of their stores, Walmart is famous for selling pretty much everything at discount prices. Perhaps most significantly, bitcoin users will now be able to pay for groceries and gasoline in their favorite currency.
Membership-based retail warehouse Sam's Club (a Walmart subsidiary) also accepts Walmart gift cards as payment, increasing options even further.
Buying gift cards with bitcoin for yourself and others has been around for a short while already, after competitor Gyft partnered with BitPay in May 2013 to sell cards for a range of stores including clothing and fast food, as well as Amazon.
“The ability to purchase daily necessities with bitcoin has been something of a holy grail for digital currency enthusiasts”
Other indirect payment options include bitcoincodes.com, which exchanges bitcoin for access to various online services like XBox Live, Playstation Network, Nintendo and AirVPN. Australian residents can use local service Bitcoin Gift Cards to buy, among other things, fuel and home supplies.
The ability to purchase daily necessities with bitcoin has been something of a holy grail for digital currency enthusiasts, and a lack of such options is often used by cryptocurrency naysayers to claim bitcoin isn't mainstream enough for mass acceptance.
eGifter users can send gift cards and vouchers for over 100 US-based brands to others attached to e-cards and video messages. The recipient can either print off the coupon number or barcode, or display it on a smartphone using eGifter's iOS or Android apps.
The company uses Coinbase to process transactions and does not charge any extra fees or markups to pay with bitcoin.
Logging into eGifter with Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn allows users to import their contact lists to choose recipients. If you prefer not to link your social networks to other sites, it also allows you to sign up and send gift cards with email addresses only. Users can also purchase cards in groups with each contributor using different payment options, if they wish.
While electronic gift cards occasionally need to be explained to store employees, reddit users have reported no problems making purchases with the Walmart cards purchased with bitcoin via eGifter.