Where can I use Bitcoin?

A first-of-its-kind business in Africa will open on Saturday. Shopnow, the continent’s first online store to accept only cryptocurrencies, will announce its grand opening by throwing a launch party in Lagos — complete with entrepreneurs, investors and Nollywood celebrities. Considering that Nigeria drives global, online searches for Bitcoin, it seems logical that this pioneering business take root in Lagos. The Nigerian market hungers for Bitcoin, and consumers will now have an e-commerce site built exclusively around it.

But if you don’t live in Nigeria, where can you use Bitcoin?

Unfortunately, this is a more difficult question to answer than one might think. Cryptocurrencies are so new that, even though businesses eye them with interest, they may not feel comfortable accepting them yet due to their price volatility. Or they may accept them on a trial basis and, therefore, not publicize it. Regardless, it is strangely difficult to locate businesses that accept Bitcoin, and our users often ask us for advice.

TWO RESOURCES

CoinMap visually demonstrates businesses that accept Bitcoin. Think of it as the Google Maps of Bitcoin. You can search for and locate businesses that accept Bitcoin on every continent except Antarctica. (But maybe one day you will be able to use Bitcoin there, too.) Of course, business owners must add their businesses to the database, so the map does not show every single business that accepts Bitcoin. Nevertheless, because it includes 9,400 venues, you should discover a few new places where you can spend Bitcoin.

Spendabit “helps you find things you can buy with Bitcoin.” Think of it as the Amazon of Bitcoin. Enter an item you would like to search for, and the site scours its database and shows you the results. For example, a search for “wedding ring” resulted in 20,400 results. (So if you need a wedding ring, you know where to go.) The site claims a database of over 3 million items, so you should be able to find whatever you are looking for. Because this is an e-commerce site, you can use Bitcoin regardless of wherever you may be.

A WORD OF CAUTION

As the popularity of cryptocurrency surges, many fraudsters are running scams to rob people of Bitcoin. As we have mentioned before, be careful. It may be wise to make a small purchase first to test whether a business is legitimate and to avoid putting a significant value of your Bitcoin at risk. For example, you could purchase a small top-up of prepaid mobile minutes at Bitrefill. If the transaction works as promised, then you can make larger purchases later — this time with greater confidence that the business is not a scam.

It is best to put your toe in the water before you decide to dive in.

We welcome the opening of Shopnow. Nigerians will enjoy the services of a cryptocurrency-only business tailored for their market. But if you don’t live there, CoinMap and Spendabit offer other avenues to spend Bitcoin. Whether you buy goods and services from Bitrefill or another business that accepts Bitcoin, we hope that you find honest, reliable businesses that make it easy to use Bitcoin.

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