While bitcoin's advance into the mainstream remains patchy, the crypto-currency still emerged as the ninth most popular payment method during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy earlier this week.
According to figures amassed by Bitnet, Black Friday proved the more popular day for the crypto-currency crowd, with total spend rising to $152 million, compared to $144 million on Cyber Monday.
While the numbers are impressive for an emerging unit of account, they are dwarfed by the money flowing through more established payment networks, such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Paypal. On some estimates, if the bitcoin spend was made entirely in the US alone, rather than the global number cited by Bitnet, it would equate to a paltry 0.3% of holiday shopping.
Nonetheless, the trends are moving in the right direction. The virtual currency is now accepted at approximately 75,000 merchants worldwide, and their numbers are growing fast, according to a recent report by First Annapolis Consulting Inc.
“Like all other payment networks, bitcoin saw a surge in volume over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with higher than usual payment totals over the two days,” says Akif Khan, VP solutions strategy, Bitnet. “The Bitcoin network handled $296M in two days - that’s impressive when taking into account the currency is only five years old and is still growing with respect to merchant and consumer adoption.”
The data comes as the The US Marshals Service dumped 50,000 bitcoins onto the open market in an auction of coins seized from alleged Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht. The USMC reported that 11 registered bidders placed 27 bids for the bitcoin, down from 45 bidders in June when investor interest in the currency was peaking. The value of the currency remained stable at about $380 during the auction process.