For holiday shoppers looking to score deals, there's Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now, Bitcoin Black Friday. In a bid to make the popular virtual currency mainstream and encourage the actual spending of the units, a bitcoin entrepreneur has organized the second annual Bitcoin Black Friday.
Bitcoin value has skyrocketed in recent months and topped $1,000 early Wednesday -- not exactly encouraging people to use bitcoin for its intended purpose as an everyday currency. A full 64 percent of bitcoins in circulation have never been spent, according to researchers from the University of California-San Diego and George Mason University, Read Write reported on Tuesday.
Jon Holmquist, who is involved in the digital payment startup Ripple Labs, plans to change that with Bitcoin Black Friday. Last year, Holmquist organized the inaugural event that happened on Nov. 9, a second anniversary for bitcoin, but this year the event will piggyback on the traditional shopping mania on the days after Thanksgiving.
"We wanted to show bitcoin is going mainstream," said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of the Internet advocacy group Fight for the Future, one of the two companies backing Bitcoin Black Friday. "Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and it's a great way to start."
On the seller side, many more prominent merchants are participating in the bitcoin event. Consumers can purchase unlocked phones from GSM Nation, discounted plane tickets from Cheapair.com, and premium membership on OkCupid. Gyft is selling gift cards to Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) and Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR), and people can make donations with the cryptocurrency, CNN reported.
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About 275 merchants have already signed up to participate, and Holmquist expects close to 500 merchants by Friday. Last year, just 75 businesses took part in the event.
On the consumer side, the Bitcoin Black Friday website’s email sign-up form has already reached over 2,500 emails. Last year, fewer than 500 people purchased goods with bitcoins. Still, with bitcoin values continuing to climb, many holders may be reluctant to part with their digital wallet, Read Write reported.