Bitcoin, Black Friday, And Two-Factor Authentication
When BitcoinBlackFriday — the cryptocurrency cousin of the biggest retail shopping day ever — first started a few years back, it was scheduled for a few weeks before Thanksgiving. There was no way for the then, much-maligned-and-not-yet-too-popular payment method to compete against the online/offline retail madness that occurred after turkey dinners were consumed and forgotten.
No more. As we approach the fourth BitcoinBlackFriday, we are happy to see that the growing popularity of Bitcoin has granted it a place alongside its well-established role-model on November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.
Every Black Friday brings out the good and bad in humankind. Those who take part, face large crowds and general human chaos as they converge on big box stores and malls to get that one special gift for pennies on the dollar. That’s why shopping online on Black Friday became so popular: all the savings, none of the crowds.
But for Bitcoin users, neither of those options fulfilled a particular need: where to spend my Bitcoin? That’s why BitcoinBlackFriday was born, to provide information about Bitcoin-exclusive deals and discounts with links to merchants who accept Bitcoin.
Not familiar With Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is the first, and largest, decentralized digital currency. Think of it as an online peer-to-peer currency used much like a pre-loaded gift card. Unlike using a credit card when shopping online, Bitcoin provides privacy, identity protection, and less expensive handling costs for online merchants, who often pass the savings on to Bitcoin users.
Transactions, protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses, occur directly without an intermediary. Each documented in a massive, publicly-distributed ledger called the BlockChain that allows the user, and the entire Bitcoin network, to automatically verify the authenticity of each transaction.
Some call it the ‘internet for money.’ Consider how long it took for us to change the way we shop, send mail, read books, watch movies, and find dates, now all done on the internet. Sending and receiving money, digitally and in one currency usable around the world, is the next logical step.
Still, Not All Merchants Accept Bitcoin
Just as some merchants don’t accept credit cards, some are not aware, not technically able, or are waiting until Bitcoin reaches a critical mass before jumping in. But for the many businesses who already accept Bitcoin there are real benefits for consumers: when you pay for a service or product in Bitcoin, there’s no risk of fraud or chargebacks, and there are no credit card fees. Businesses, especially small businesses, love fewer fees!
But what about user benefits? Same benefits! Bitcoin allows consumers to buy risk-free via a mobile app or computer program that acts as a personal Bitcoin wallet. Because buying and selling are frictionless, it’s cheaper to transact in Bitcoin than in many other currencies, including US dollars. In short, consumers using Bitcoin can save money, if they can find merchants selling what they want to buy.
Is Bitcoin Mainstream Yet?
Bitcoin has been around since 2008. But in the last four years, merchant interest in Bitcoin has skyrocketed. While BitcoinBlackFriday boasted 300 deals in 2012, the number had grown to 600 in 2013, and by 2014 approaching 6000. BitcoinBlackFriday 2015 looks to be even bigger. Many think that the best way to judge the health of the Bitcoin industry is to focus on the price, and granted, it does fluctuate:
A better gauge is to look at how much the world is using Bitcoin. It’s gaining in popularity. Regulators, once wary of a shift in online transactions, are now warming up to the digital currency. Some of the world’s biggest financial institutions are investing, including Santander Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays. NASDAQ is integrating Bitcoin technology into its systems. Even U.S. Presidential candidate Rand Paul sees the value and is accepting donations in Bitcoin.
And just last week, Coinbase, the Silicon Valley startup that operates digital bitcoin wallets for over 2.8 million people across the globe, introduced Shift, a Bitcoin-based Debit Card. This bold move could be what’s needed to push cryptocurrency into the mainstream, and it’s not inconceivable that Bitcoin technology could be the key future global financial markets.
Staying Bitcoin Secure
All Bitcoin users should make every effort to secure their account with two-factor authentication, which should be a required standard for all financial services. The “something you know” approach to security, namely the traditional combination of username and password, has always been somewhat insecure. But add that to something you have, like a mobile phone, a token key, or a dongle, and you get, a new and reliable level of security: the 2nd factor.
Authy is the preferred two-factor authentication solution to protect your bitcoin wallet. We’re the default 2FA provider for trusted cyber currency companies like CoinFloor, BitGo, Bitwage, the aforementioned Coinbase, and many others.
Authy & Coinbase Leading The Way
Fully supported in 32 countries, Coinbase is one of the most popular Bitcoin wallet and exchanges available today. In addition to the 7,000 apps partnering with Coinbase, the recent announcement of Shift, means that Bitcoin is now accepted by 38 million merchants worldwide, and that Coinbase is probably the most convenient marketplace to buy, use, and exchange Bitcoin currency.
One of the compelling reasons that Coinbase chose Authy over Google Authenticator as its 2FA partner is our significantly better reset process. With Google Authenticator, your private key is kept on your device. Lose it and the website or app you are trying to access must disable 2FA on your account and reissue it after receiving proof of identity.
Instead, Authy keeps private keys on a secure server, so if a Coinbase user needs new codes, or replaces a device, a reset is handled quickly and efficiently. This process is more convenient for end users and saves Coinbase from having to have an extensive reset process and staffing an expanded 24-hour support team.
Bitcoin Black Friday. Be There.
So, after Thanksgiving this year, think about cashing in on some Bitcoin-exclusive deals. Bitcoin providers often post curated deals they feel will be of interest, or you can view all deals (some posted even before November 27th) at bitcoinblackfriday.com and bitcoinblackfriday.info.
Just remember to set up two-factor authentication on your Bitcoin account if you haven’t done so already. And note that any 2FA process that suggests Google Authenticator can also support Authy. Just follow the same process detailed on the site or app. For questions, you can always write to us at [email protected].