When you see something about cryptocurrency in the news, it usually involves Bitcoin skyrocketing or crashing, the release of some new trendy coin, and sometimes even stories about crypto heists. You might also occasionally hear about celebrity endorsements, like when Elon Musk announced in early May 2021 that SpaceX had agreed to accept Doge as payment for putting a lunar satellite into orbit.
The focus of these news stories reflects the fact that most people still see cryptocurrencies more as speculative investment vehicles or a means of securely and anonymously storing money than as a unit of value that can be used to pay for things. This perception is becoming increasingly misguided, however. Though you probably won’t see examples in the headlines, more and more companies and establishments are beginning to accept cryptocurrencies as a method of payment.
One breakthrough exception occurred earlier this month when AMC Entertainment made the news by revealing that their US movie theaters would begin accepting bitcoin as payment for tickets and concessions. The announcement comes as the world’s largest cinema chain attempts to bounce back from the hard financial blow it took during COVID lockdowns.
AMC’s strategic move, which made it the first cinema chain to accept cryptocurrency, appears to be well-informed. While people may not have been going to the movies during the pandemic, statistics show that they’ve definitely been stocking up on cryptocurrencies.
A poll of 1,004 people recently conducted by NORC, a University of Chicago research group, found that 13% of Americans have invested in digital currencies over the last year. Moreover, the average cryptocurrency investor in the nationally representative sample was 38 years old, as opposed to the average age of stock investors, which is 47.
In Singapore, the percentage of cryptocurrency owners is even higher, as a survey of over 1,000 Singaporeans by the Australian cryptocurrency exchange Independent Reserve found that 43% of respondents owned digital currency.
Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey found that Bitcoin ownership tripled in the United States between 2018 and 2021, while the percentage of Americans who view Bitcoin as ‘very risky’ dropped by 5% during that time.
The implications of these new polls are clear: the world’s population is increasingly buying into cryptocurrencies, and these consumers tend to be younger people who are generally more eager to utilize new technologies, like novel ways of saving money and making purchases.
Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to see why a major entertainment company like AMC would try to tap into this new store of value by attracting younger audiences with new technology.
And though AMC, by virtue of its size, may have made a splash on front pages with its announcement, it’s hardly the first entertainment business to harness the possibilities presented by cryptocurrencies. This trend has been slowly advancing in the leisure industry for some time now, albeit more quietly.
You might not be surprised to learn that one of the first places to actively embrace cryptocurrencies as a method of payment was Las Vegas, as the gambling industry is often at the forefront when it comes to deploying new technological innovations.
The D and Golden Gate casinos began accepting Bitcoin at their restaurants, hotels, and gift shops back in January of 2014. Co-owner and CEO Derek Stevens remarked at the time, “I’m proud that the D and Golden Gate will be the first casino properties to accept Bitcoin. We’re located in the growing high-tech sector of Downtown Las Vegas, and like all things Downtown, we’re quickly adaptive to new technology.”
Though it’s illegal to gamble with cryptocurrency in US casinos, there are a number of Bitcoin ATMs located around the city where gamblers can sell Bitcoin for cash or purchase Bitcoin to stash their cash winnings directly in their crypto wallets.
In addition, just in July, a famous Las Vegas gentlemen’s club named Crazy Horse 3 announced that it plans to accept cryptocurrency for food, beverages, retail items, admission, ‘dance dollars,’ and tips in the near future.
Crazy Horse 3 publicist Lindsay Feldman noted, “We are embracing the opportunity to accept Bitcoin as a way to deliver convenience, first-class hospitality, and an added level of anonymity for our guests.”
But ‘Sin City’ is by no means the only entertainment area to adopt Bitcoin. Many traditional mainstream recreational venues have begun to quietly accept cryptocurrency as well.
Also, back in 2014, London Theatre Direct, a leading UK theatre ticket agency, became the first company of its kind in the world to accept bitcoin payments.
Announcing the move, the company’s managing director, Francis Hellyer, said:
“Bitcoin is an exciting, experimental, decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. We want to embrace new methods of accepting payments online,” adding, “although Theatreland is typically a little slower on the uptake of newer technologies, we have been pushing very hard over the past few years to set an example to the industry by experimenting with new technologies.”
Hellyer also noted that advanced payment methods like those that process Bitcoin make transactions cheaper, more secure, and mobile-friendly for consumers.
The Great Lakes Science Center, a museum and educational facility in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, began accepting cryptocurrency back in 2018.
“Accepting Bitcoin is just a small part of the momentum to grow a blockchain ecosystem in Cleveland,” said Kirsten Ellenbogen, the Great Lakes Science Center’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Other US museums accepting cryptocurrencies include the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Texas and the St. Petersburg Museum of History in Florida.
England’s Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park in Bristol recently began accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, USDcoin, Bitcoin cash, and Dai as payment for everything from entry fees to concerts.
The park’s owner, Doug D says, “We are really excited to be able to offer the opportunity for people to buy our tickets with cryptocurrencies. We always look to the future, and I personally feel this is going to be a massive disruptor for the mainstream financial systems that have had it good for so long.”
As of now, there are still few opportunities to directly buy concert tickets with cryptocurrencies, but there are some alternate routes that make this quite possible and easy. For instance, there are services where you can buy gift cards for Ticketmaster using a number of different cryptocurrencies. These gift cards can then be used to obtain tickets for nearly any event you can imagine, as Ticketmaster is one of the most popular and widely used websites for booking concerts in the world.
Observing the above examples, it is clear that the potential for cryptocurrencies in the entertainment industry is huge but largely unexploited. Though some inroads have been made in certain areas, venues that directly accept cryptocurrencies, including museums, concert halls, theaters, and movie theaters, are still few and far between. Given that so many people around the globe have stored assets in the form of cryptocurrency since the pandemic began, recreational venues can tap into an enormous amount of wealth by introducing payment systems that process crypto transactions, provided they are secure, convenient, and easy to use.
Merchants can integrate Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, and XRP as payment options on their websites. The transaction fee is just 0.99%, and this can optionally be passed on to the customer.
Merchants have access to a number of integration options, including API & IPNs, embedded payment buttons, and shopping cart plugins, as well as powerful tools for managing their digital assets.
All these factors make ALFAcoins an option for entertainment venues to consider when looking for a payment system that will allow them to tap into the substantial stores of cryptocurrency that consumers have accumulated during the pandemic.
Another option is Coinbase Commerce, a platform that makes it possible to accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, DAI, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin as payment from anywhere in the world in a fully decentralized way.
The payment processor offers merchants a super simple hosted checkout and payment buttons or an API for backend customization, as well as quick integrations to 12 of the most popular eCommerce services, including WooCommerce and Shopify.
Coinbase Commerce also currently supports USD Coin and DAI, which are price-stable cryptocurrencies whose value is fixed to the dollar.
Merchants can convert cryptocurrencies received as payment to fiat on the platform’s affiliated exchange, Coinbase.com, or any other cryptocurrency exchange.
Coinbase is also in the process of rolling out their own card that will allow users to spend crypto anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted and earn crypto rewards in the process.
There is also CoinsPaid, another organization providing cryptocurrency payment services and personal wallets. Through its site for BTB customers, CryptoProcessing.com, it offers merchants a payment processing service for cryptocurrencies, which has received accolades for innovation from EGR BTB Virtual and the SBC Awards.
While poor checkout processes can increase the abandonment rate for transactions to 70%, CoinsPaid’s streamlined payment solution, which consists of 3 simple steps that require no sensitive customer data, can boost conversion rates for sales up to 35%.
Another feature is that crypto payments processed through CoinsPaid can be instantly converted into fiat currency or held to pay partners or affiliates in crypto. CoinsPaid’s crypto processing system supports 30+ crypto and 20+ digital currencies with a built-in exchange, which means that customers can pay in the cryptocurrency of their choice, and an equal amount in any of the supported national currencies is received by the merchant’s account.