Cryptocurrency has had one hell of a wild ride over the last year. Few had heard of the obscure pseudo-currency until the trading markets went supernova in late 2017 and the media couldn’t stop talking about it. Everyone wanted it. Then, everyone bought it. It skyrocketed, dipped, went back up again, and now appears to be in freefall. Now, amateur investors can’t get rid of it fast enough. All the while, there have been precious few outlets who would even accept the web-only “money.” Now — after a month where Bitcoin lost more than half its value — one of Australia’s largest airports is taking the daring (or perhaps insane) step to allow passengers to use Bitcoin as valid tender.
Brisbane Airport has signed an agreement that will make it the world’s first aviation hub to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and Steem. Passengers traveling through the Queensland capital will be able to “open” their crypto-wallets to pay at the airport’s restaurants, bars, and shops.
Depending on the “expert” (to be clear, it seems no one has accurately predicted the market’s rise and fall), cryptocurrency is either the wave of the future for the global economy or a soon-to-burst bubble that’s orders of magnitude larger than anything we saw during the dot-com boom and bust. Regardless, heavy-hitting corporations like PayPal and Microsoft have already pledged their support for it. In the travelsphere, Expedia allows travelers to book their hotels (though not flights) with Bitcoin. Forward-thinking pioneer Richard Branson currently offers seats aboard Virgin Galactic’s forthcoming space flights. Passengers can purchase their $250,000 ticket via any means they like, including Bitcoin. The exotic island of Vanuatu even allows people to use Bitcoin in exchange for citizenship.
Cryptocurrencies have existed since at least 2008. However, their value, purpose, and innerworkings have eluded most in the decade since. It’s not surprising given, that the average person is likely to short-circuit when you try explaining “decentralized blockchain enabled payments” to them. It seems clear, however, that the more industries, corporations, and governmental entities who adopt cryptocurrency as legitimate tender, the more likely it is to become commonplace.
Toward that end, the Australian government is making a strong statement that they acknowledge the new currency as actual money. While it seems like a minor gesture, it’s part of a groundswell to mainstream the technology for public use. The signs are pointing to a time in the near-future when even non-technically-minded consumers will view not using cryptocurrency as outdated as not having an email address.