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Bitcoin gains as US big retail stores move to accept cryptocurrency

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Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world by valuation could finally be heading mainstream as big name retailers such as Nordstrom, Gamestop, Regal Cinemas, Crate and Barrel and Amazon-owned Whole Foods will now accept bitcoin and three other cryptocurrencies – Gemini, Ether and Bitcoin Cash.

The development is coming as a result of a partnership between Flexa, a global cryptocurrency payment network that enables major retailers to accept cryptocurrency payments in stores, and Gemini, a cryptocurrency company owned by the Winklevoss twins.

As a result of the initiative, consumers will be able to easily spend any of the four cryptocurrencies using the SPEDN mobile wallet which is available in the iOS Apple Store. Essentially, Flexa convinced the retailers to configure their scanners to recognize payments from its cryptocurrency app called SPEDN.

The cryptocurrency consumers’ deposit on the wallet will be in the custody of Gemini providing security for those using the new payment technology.

“Together, by providing Flexa with trusted custody and infrastructure, we hope to profoundly improve the payment experience; and merchants who are currently subject to overly complex, expensive legacy systems of credit and debit cards stand to benefit significantly,” said Tyler Winklevoss in a statement.

He further noted that with Flexa merchants get significantly less expensive and fraud-resistant transactions; can use the same payment hardware they currently use and receive payment in fiat currency, not crypto.

“We believe that not only will this result in cost-savings to the merchant, but to the consumer in the long-term as well,” he said.

News of the initiative is said to partly responsible for the jump the cryptocurrency market experienced on Tuesday. Bitcoin hit a 10 month high of $8,335 in the late hours of Tuesday only to retreat to near $7,600 on Wednesday morning. As at the time of writing this article, the price had appreciated to $7,994 on the Coindesk Price Index.

Bitcoin accounts for around 60 per cent of the $240 billion cryptocurrency market, down from nearly 90 per cent just over two years ago. It has however doubled in value in 2019, rallying nearly 30 per cent in recent days to touch its highest level in ten months.

Ether – the second largest cryptocurrency by market value – also rose to $235, its highest level since October 1, 2018. It had however retreated to $233 as at time of writing.

The price of Ripple (XRP) rose to $0.45 on Wednesday morning, the highest since December 24 according to Coindesk. It dropped slightly to $0.44 later in the day.

Institutional investment in cryptocurrencies is on the rise as Facebook, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung and many other organisations are known to have one or two blockchain projects.

“The idea of living on crypto is now a reality,” said Winklevoss. “For the consumer, it amounts to being crypto conscious. It is like being green.”

Iqbal V. Graham, UK managing director of eToro also pointed out that the price of bitcoin has hit a base value and now individual stories such as Samsung and HTC phones carrying bitcoin or Amazon marketplaces accepting the cryptocurrency are starting to take effect on consumer acceptance.

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