Cryptocurrency in Mainstream Stores



Winklevoss twins use cryptocurrency to pay for Starbucks.

Julian Koste, Staff Writer

In what many consider to be a historic decision, several large companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Home Depot have decided that they will begin to accept cryptocurrency as methods of payment. Cryptocurrencies are online methods of payment that were created as a way to do business transactions without the need for any government or bank interference. The method of making them are very complex and involves a lot of time to get those bitcoins.

“I think [cryptocurrency] should be used more,” Said Amit [last name], a senior at Amador, “I think a lot of people don’t know how to use it, and how to buy it, and how to sell it…but people should learn because it will be our future.”

There are very divided opinions on cryptocurrency depending on who you ask. Andrea O’Sullivan, a journalist for coin center said “cryptocurrency technologies have a wide range of use cases that extend far beyond the cloistered circles of Silicon Valley and Wall Street.” On the other hand, Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer of Harvard University, called bitcoin a “useless system” citing that it could be easily hacked, lost, or deleted due to system errors.

Most cryptocurrencies, however, have a distinct history of being used almost exclusively for illegal transactions. As a form of payment that’s hard to track and free from governments or banks, it quickly became a favorite of criminals while using services on illegal sites. The United States, Canada, and the European union have kept most cryptocurrency legal, while Russia, China, and other countries have banned the use of bitcoin in particular.

However, in recent years, the situation has changed. “The ratio if illegal activity in bitcoin has flipped…Now, illegal activity has shrunk [from 90 percent] to about 10 percent and speculation has become the dominant driver,” Said Lilita Infante, a DEA special agent specializing in crypto-related activities.

That was about a year ago, and it has extended to other cryptocurrencies as well. With significantly less illegal activity to smudge the reputation of bitcoin, these big companies can use them without stigma.

“I think the major cryptocurrency…has kind of reached its peak in terms of usefulness,” Said Aaron Helmers, a senior at Amador, “I think more companies will start using cryptocurrency, since more people are using it.”

Students at Amador don’t seem too invested in the developments of cryptocurrency overall, though they might want to be in the future.