Why bitcoin for retail purchases is far from becoming a reality

With bitcoin’s price climbing to $4,000, its appeal as an investment product continues to gain interest. But one area where bitcoin is still struggling is consumer retail — largely a result of the hurdles of actually getting ahold of the virtual currency, kinks on the customer experience side and additional work for retailers.

“As much of a bitcoin bull I am, I have to be a realist in talking about retail in the U.S.,” said Ryan Gilbert, partner at Propel Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. “Retail is one of the hardest channels to crack.”

A recent Morgan Stanley report pointed to bitcoin’s slow acceptance as a payment method, noting that the virtual currency’s “acceptance is virtually zero and shrinking.” It said only three of the world’s top online merchants accept it. Still, Bitcoin payments processor BitPay said it’s processed over $1 billion this year from global brands like Microsoft, NewEgg and the the video game platform Steam.

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