Crate and Barrel, Nordstrom, Amazon, and other retailers have partnered with payments startup Flexa and Gemini to attempt to bring Bitcoin and three other forms of digital money to retail. The scheme will piggy-back on digital scanners that many big retailers already use to accept mobile payments.
The app, however, appears to work as advertised. This weekend, I tried it by downloading a test version of Spedn, and transferring $10 worth of Bitcoin to it. Next, I went to a Baskin Robbins in my neighborhood and bought a small coffee by scanning the app. It worked. Next, I went to a Starbucks (another partner in the project but an unofficial one) and bought a banana. That worked too. In each case, the app adjusted the amount Bitcoin in my wallet. The first widespread, low-friction opportunity for consumers to shop with cryptocurrency, this is potentially a big deal. The Spedn app lets users spend four types of crypto: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and a so-called stablecoin called a Gemini Dollar, which is pegged to the value of one U.S. dollar and backed by banking giant State Street.