The big question: Would you spend Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency you own at Whole Foods or GameStop? Mobile payment startup Flexa is hoping you would. It announced the launch of its crypto-wallet app Spedn today which can spend your coin directly or convert it to cash at local retailers.
Many people who own cryptocurrency do so strictly for investment purposes. After all, legal spending options are limited. Sure, some online vendors like Newegg, Tiger Direct, and Overstock accept Bitcoin, but finding places in the real world to spend crypto is challenging, as one Bitcoin Magazine writer discovered.
This challenge may be alleviated if Flexa has its way. The digital payment startup has established a network and launched an iOS (Android coming soon) wallet app called Spedn that allows you to spend cryptocurrencies at brick-and-mortar retailers.
The app works with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Gemini currencies. Spedn generates a barcode that the cashier can scan. Retailers do not need any new hardware to accept the payment method. They only need to configure their scanners to read the Spedn codes.
"The Spedn app was built on the open Flexa network, which acts as an intermediary between merchants and the blockchain, and requires no point-of-sale upgrades for merchants."
If the retailer does not directly accept crypto payments, the app will automatically convert it to cash to process the transaction.
Flexa's press release did not mention how much retailer support it has yet. However, Fortune reports that Crate and Barrel, Nordstroms, Whole Foods, Regal Cinemas, GameStop, Baskin Robbins, and unofficially Starbucks are ready to begin taking Spedn payments.
The real question is who will be willing to use the payment method? As previously mentioned, many consider cryptocurrency an investment. These people are not likely going to want to spend crypto at the store. That would be like paying for a video game out of your 401K.
The other problem is the volatility involved with cryptocurrencies. One day that video game may cost $60 the next it might cost $100 or $40 depending how much and which direction the currency fluctuated. It is difficult to imagine anyone wanting to have to calculate and consider whether or not they should use their crypto on a simple purchase.
We will have to wait to see if the payment method gains any momentum, but it’s hard to see it catching on at this time.