Can you actually buy stuff with bitcoin (฿ or BTC) and does this new cryptocurrency money have any real-world application?
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Well yes, turns out it does.
I recently entered for the Goss & Balfe Sapphire Coast Marathon.
This is a running race that takes place yearly between Scottburgh and Amanzimtoti on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. There is also a half marathon. The race is also a Comrades and Two Oceans qualifier which piqued my interest.
The race is hosted by the Amanzimtoti Athletics Club. At the checkout the payment options were the usual suspects, i.e. Credit Card, EFT or wait for it.. bitcoin?! The payment processing service they used (PayFast) accepts this cryptocurrency as a payment method. I decided to try this out.
The race entry was R200 which translated to 0.0032 BTC. I opened the bitcoin wallet on my phone (, scanned their QR code on the site and clicked “Send”. The transaction took a few minutes to verify which was the only slightly negative part of the experience. Bitcoin’s increase in popularity has given rise to longer transaction times but there has been an improvement after the 1 September update to the protocol.
There was a small transaction fee added to the charge for PayFast to process the transaction. If you send bitcoin from one user to another directly there is usually no transaction fee or a very minimal fee if you want your transaction to be processed faster although, this can depend on the wallet application that you use.
My assumptions are that PayFast keeps the cryptocurrency for themselves and transfer the amount in Rands to the race organisers. This is a novel way to build up a cryptocurrency reserve.
According to the PayFast website:
“Neither PayFast nor the seller receives or stores any Bitcoin, so there aren’t any risks of security, volatility or exchange rate fluctuations.”
They have partnered with cryptocurrency service Luno to exchange the bitcoin to South African Rand.