Black Friday + bitcoin = bad news. Or at least that’s what one might think. You know, black market sales, the underground operations, the Dark Web.
But that’s not what we’re talking here. Black Friday for the bitcoin community is just another retail holiday, apparently.
Yes, folks, there’s even a Bitcoin Black Friday (Seriously, it’s a real thing). And apparently it’s been around for four years (who knew?). The digital currency community is just as traditional as the rest of the retail world when it comes to what is the biggest shopping holiday (weekend) that has every retailer vying to get customers in the door and on their eCommerce site.
So what is Bitcoin Black Friday all about? Appropriately sponsored by a company called Private Internet Access — an anonymous VPN Service — the holiday is simply a way for merchants that accept bitcoin to promote themselves. Likewise, it’s an opportunity for shoppers who want to pay in bitcoin to learn where they can pay via bitcoin.
And its promotions are just as cheesy as any other retailer’s promotions: “The bitcoin holiday shopping season is back again,” its promo site reads.
“Bitcoin Black Friday is a one-day event that brings together bitcoin merchants and bitcoin users. Merchants simply list their bitcoin-exclusive deals, and users can check out all the deals in one place. This year, we’re focused on quality merchants that care about the bitcoin community,” reads its mission.
But who are those merchants?
It’s not quite clear from the website if you visited before the day. The list is expected to come out today. But the site does encourage curious shoppers to sign up via email to receive a list from a hub, which is hosted by bitcoin enthusiast Jon Holmquist. Merchants can do the same.
And it’s got one heck of a promotion running to push merchants to take part in the day.
“Bitcoin Black Friday is the largest sale of the year for bitcoin merchants. Join in and support the bitcoin community, listing your deal is free!” the promotion reads.
Not sure how many true “bitcoin merchants” there really are, but that’s one pretty bullish claim. But the bitcoin community has a knack for making wacky claims. For those “bitcoin merchants,” any day is probably a big day for them, considering the amount of people who actually shop with bitcoin.
But wait, we did a little more digging into the holiday. Apparently, one report claims that there are 2,000 merchants that plan on taking part. And last year was a big drop in the bitcoin bucket.
“2014 saw an 82 percent increase in the number of merchants who completed transactions compared to last year’s BBF,” Tony Sakich, marketing manager at payments processing firm BitPay, told IBT. “While last year many of the discounts and deals were for bitcoin-related technology, like bitcoin-mining equipment, this year a broader range of retailers were offering bitcoin-specific deals on a wider array of items.”
Of course he’s a bit of a biased source, but he’s got the right to make his pitch.
“This Bitcoin Black Friday may signify a move forward and towards mainstream acceptance of bitcoin,” he noted.
But in the meantime (to spoil a few of the deals), here’s a few of the items to buy on Bitcoin Black Friday from those retailers accepting bitcoin:
Cheap domains from Namecheap; discounted candies and raw honey from Bees Brothers, metal coins with a built-in bitcoin wallet from Denariu, discounted T-shirt swag, soap molded in the shape of bitcoin (what?!) from Bitsoaps, board games from Nestoorgames, and discounted jewelry from REEDS jewelers.
And the best on the list? Beef jerky.
Wow. Black Friday retailers better watch out. Bitcoin Black Friday’s got jerky, soap and candles for sale.
But Bitcoin Black Friday didn’t always come with such a squeaky clean reputation. The concept, of course, was born from the most infamous Dark Web marketplace of them all: The Silk Road (the one that landed multiple individuals in prison, including its creator for life). But today, its reputation hasn’t shed all of its past.
“This was back when the Silk Road was still up and running, so one of the primary goals of the campaign was simply to tell people that you could buy perfectly legal things with bitcoin,” Holmquist told Siliconrepublic.com in an interview. “It wasn’t a dark, shadowy currency, but a tool that could be used for good.”
Holmquist is trying to redeem bitcoin’s rep a bit by promoting that real merchants do accept the digital currency and that there’s an engaged community wanting to shop at those places. The holiday got a strong following, said Holmquist, when bitcoin almost topped $1,200 in 2013. It slowed the year after, of course.
This year, however, is focused on providing a more organized approach to helping connect consumers to bitcoin merchants.
“This year we focused on keeping the event more curated,” Holmquist said in the interview. “We actually cut down on the amount of merchants we reached out to and are projecting about 150 to 200 merchants are going to participate. We’re focused on getting stores not only that accept bitcoin, but also are active in the bitcoin community.”