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Apple Pay now supports Bitcoin payments for the first time

Published Feb 15th, 2021 5:03PM EST
Apple Pay BitCoin
Image: escapejaja/Adobe

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  • With the new BitPay app, users can now use Apple Pay to make payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
  • BitPay is planning to include support for Google Pay and Samsung Pay in the near future.

Though Apple has historically had something of a love-hate relationship with Bitcoin, the company seems to be slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that the cryptocurrency isn’t something it can realistically avoid or ignore.

As a recent example, users can now use Apple Pay to make payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to a recent press release from BitPay.

BitPay itself is a digital wallet that can be used in conjunction with Apple Pay and the Apple Wallet app.

“We have thousands of BitPay Wallet app customers using the BitPay Card who are always looking for new places and ways to spend their crypto,” BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said. “Adding Apple Pay and soon Google and Samsung Pay makes it easy and convenient to use the BitPay Card in more places from day-to-day items to luxury purchases.”

The press release adds:

For power blockchain users, the BitPay Wallet app supports an array of options to buy and store crypto and make online payments. Users can instantly buy gift cards from hundreds of top retailers in store and online. The BitPay Card enables customers to instantly convert cryptocurrency into fiat currency, which is then loaded onto the card and can be spent anywhere Mastercard debit is accepted around the world. Customers can also use the cards online for purchases and to withdraw cash from ATMs.

The BitPay Wallet app supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ether, as well as four dollar-pegged stablecoins, USDC, GUSD, PAX and BUSD.

BitPay’s news comes just a few days after RBC analyst Mitch Steves suggested Apple should purchase bitcoin and create a cryptocurrency exchange.  Steves believes that the cache associated with Apple’s security and software reliability could transform its foray into cryptocurrency into a $40 billion/year business.

“To put some numbers around this, Square generates ~$1.6B/qtr in bitcoin related revenue on an active install base that we estimate to be in the ~30M range,” Steves writes. “Apple’s install base is 1.5B and even if we assume only 200M users would transact, this is 6.66x larger than Square.”

It’s an intriguing concept, to be sure, but as we covered last week, the notion of Apple fully embracing cryptocurrency to the extent Steves suggests seems unlikely.

And while it’s nice that iOS users can now use Apple Pay for Bitcoin payments, the reality is that cryptocurrency didn’t exactly replace traditional forms of payment in the way many people anticipated a few years back.

A recent article titled The Bitcoin Dream Is Dead explains:

And yet the reality is that Bitcoin has never really functioned as a currency. Almost from the beginning, only a small percentage of Bitcoin transactions have been for actual goods and services — and of those, many have been for illicit goods and services, like drugs and online gambling. Most Bitcoin transactions have been trades: people simply buying and selling it. The blockchain analysis company Chainalysis, for instance, found that in the first four months of 2019, just 1.3% of total transactions involved merchants. And that trend has only accelerated as the value of Bitcoin has soared. Strikingly, despite the speculative fervor that has surrounded Bitcoin, the total number of transactions has risen only mildly over the past two years. And that number is so small relative to the total number of electronic bank and credit card transactions as to be barely worth mentioning.

Still, if there’s anything we’ve learned about cryptocurrency is that it’s largely unpredictable. That said, it will be interesting to see if Apple’s stance on cryptocurrency becomes more accommodating over the next few years.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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