Hello to all my tech-loving friends out there! I’m truly excited to share a fascinating adventure I recently embarked on – the experience of buying my morning cup of coffee, not with the usual card or cash, but with Bitcoin.
But first, let’s make this journey more interactive. I have a video demonstration for you that chronicles the entire process.
Table of Contents
My Introduction to Bitcoin
If you’re new to the scene, you might be wondering: what’s Bitcoin? It’s a form of digital currency, a type of cryptocurrency that’s decentralized and known for its security and convenience. Lately, I’ve been intrigued by its potential, so I decided to put it to the test and made a simple purchase: a cup of coffee.
My Trusty Sidekick: The Muun Wallet
To make a Bitcoin purchase, you need a Bitcoin wallet. For this coffee adventure, I chose the Muun Wallet. Let me share a bit about this choice.
Muun Wallet is a non-custodial Bitcoin wallet. This simply means that the control of Bitcoin remains with the user – me, in this case. The thing that attracted me to Muun is its emphasis on efficiency, convenience, and security. It allows users to send and receive Bitcoin payments on both the Bitcoin mainchain and the Lightning network, a feature I found particularly useful. I was previously using BlueWallet but with changes to their app, decided to move over to Muun.
While the mainchain is the original, most secure Bitcoin network, the Lightning Network is a second layer built on top of the Bitcoin mainchain, designed for faster and cheaper transactions, perfect for smaller payments, like my coffee!
Using Muun, you can easily choose between the mainchain and the Lightning network when you select the “Send” or “Receive” Bitcoin options in the wallet tab.
Understanding the Lightning Network
Before I delve into the actual coffee purchase, I think it would be beneficial to shed some light on the Lightning Network. After all, it played a crucial role in my coffee-buying adventure.
The Lightning Network is a second layer protocol built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. It’s primarily designed to enable fast and cheap transactions, making it an ideal solution for making small payments – like buying a cup of Joe.
Unlike traditional Bitcoin transactions that need to be validated and recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain (a process that can be slow and incur higher fees), transactions on the Lightning Network are off-chain. This means they occur between parties off the blockchain, and only the final balance is recorded on the blockchain when the payment channel is closed.
This off-chain method allows for virtually instant transactions with minimal fees, no matter how small the transaction amount. This is a significant advantage when buying low-cost items like coffee, where the speed of transaction and low fees are important.
Additionally, the Lightning Network helps address scalability issues of the Bitcoin blockchain. It can potentially handle millions to billions of transactions per second across the network—a huge leap from the 7 transactions per second that the Bitcoin network can handle.
The Coffee Purchase: Wallet of Satoshi App and Bolt Card
Now, back to the coffee. For the actual purchase, I used the Wallet of Satoshi app in POS (Point Of Sale) mode, along with the Bolt card by CoinCorner.
The Wallet of Satoshi, known for its simplicity and security, was perfect for my needs. The exciting news is that the Point of Sale (PoS) feature is now live on the Wallet of Satoshi app. This means small businesses and even street vendors can accept Bitcoin.
The Bolt card by CoinCorner was another interesting part of this journey. This contactless Lightning card, powered by NFC (Near Field Communication), make purchases a breeze. Unfortunately, the coffee shop’s phone did not have the NFC feature so I did a small demo transaction in the video to show how it will work.
With a simple scan of the QR code on the point of sale device displaying a Lightning invoice, I made my payment. This entire transaction was carried out over the Bitcoin Network, with no use of traditional payment systems. It was R35 each for two very large cappuccinos. Unfortunately, I had the app’s network preference set to settle on-chain on the main bitcoin network so the fees were high at R6 (8%) of the transaction. Had I set it correctly to use the Bitcoin Lighting Network, the fees would have been negligible. Guess I’ll just have to do another video to show how low the fees are!
Also worth mentioning is that the sender pays the fees, unlike in traditional POS systems where the merchant is pays a fee on each transaction. The fees will also vary in rate depending on the network availability at the time.
My Coffee Purchase – A Success!
There you have it, my friends! That was my firsthand experience buying coffee using Bitcoin, a unique and intriguing experiment that left me marveling at the wonders of modern technology.
The process was smooth, quick, and efficient – qualities we’re all looking for in our daily transactions, aren’t we? Plus, it was a cool new way to kick off my morning.
I hope my experience serves as a starting point for all of you looking to explore the exciting world of Bitcoin.
Remember, it’s not just about the novelty of using Bitcoin, but the realization of how far we’ve come in the technological world and how these advancements can simplify our everyday transactions.
Until next time, my friends, keep exploring, stay curious, and don’t forget to enjoy your coffee, however you choose to buy it!