Walking you through how to actually buy something using cryptocurrency

DETROIT – I recently asked a handful of people to do a little one-word free association with me. When I say “cryptocurrency,” you say…?

  • Meaghan (Gen-X manager of our special projects): “Bitcoin.”
  • Karen Drew (President of the ‘Women Wearing Aviators Club’): “Computer.”
  • Devin Scillian (Baller): “Pyramid scheme.”
  • Rod Meloni (Loveable curmudgeon): “Counterfeit.”
  • Ken Haddad (30-something social & digital wiz): “Volatile.”
  • Kimberly Gill (Basil’s mom): “Curious.”
  • Derick Hutchinson (Almost 30-something sports & digital wiz): “Confusing.”

It’s worth noting Rod Meloni is also a Certified Financial Planner. It just goes to show how wildly different opinions are when it comes to crypto. And whether you have a positive or negative opinion of crypto, I’m willing to bet you could use a lot more education about it.

For example, when I was assigned this story, I didn’t know where to begin or who to talk to. As I researched that, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole about the different aspects of it and how to understand it. Just when I thought I had enough of a handle on it to report a story, our assistant news director asked me how people were able to buy things with it.


So, I went back to researching. I also totally understand why people skim the topic and then give up because in a lot of respects it’s like learning a foreign language. Even though I know much more than I did before, all I can really say about crypto with any confidence is, “¿Donde esta la biblioteca?”

How to use cryptocurrency

That said, I would like to walk you through how to buy something with crypto, since it moved pretty quickly in the TV version of the story.

Several businesses support crypto as payment, although in many cases, it’s only Bitcoin. Often it requires a few extra steps than just using your credit card or a linked bank account. However, once you set up that connection, it’ll be simpler.

It’s important to note: Some stores use a specific crypto wallet. In my story, we used Starbucks, which requires you to use the crypto wallet Bakt. (Crypto wallets are like a bank account.)

Once you set up Bakt and connect your bank account, buy some Bitcoin.

Then, go to the Starbucks app and load some money on your card, but instead of loading it through your bank account, select the Bakt option.

Scan the barcode on your phone when you pay, and you’ve just bought a coffee using Bitcoin!

That’s just one example of using crypto to buy something. It could be a different process for Amazon, Home Depot, AMC, Overstock, or wherever you’re shopping.

Another way to use crypto for *anything* is to go through your wallet, like Bakt, or Coinbase, or Blackchain.com, and set up a universal “credit card.” Use the same type of steps as before to transfer your crypto funds onto the credit card, and you should be able to use that digital card when shopping almost anywhere.

Like I said, it’s a learning process. But think back to 1996 and using the internet. You were clueless on what it had to offer and how it might actually be a thing five years into the future.

Did you ever expect to do the majority of your communication by email back then?

If cryptocurrency is here to stay (and most experts believe it is, in some form or fashion), then it’s important to at least have a working knowledge of it so you don’t get ripped off or invest in the wrong type of coin, etc.

Who knows, in a couple years, you might even be able to say, “¿Puedo ir al baño por favor?”

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