Ever since the first Bitcoin boom back in late 2017, there has been a lot of excitement around the prospect of cryptocurrencies receiving widespread adoption as payment methods. The process hasn’t gone as quickly as some in the community had expected and hoped, though they possibly had been a little too optimistic in their predictions.
However, progress has been made and continues to be made. Every week we hear new stories of companies embracing digital currencies, like the recent partnership agreement signed by Chipotle so that the fast food giant can accept bitcoin and other tokens in its restaurants.
As a result, we’ve seen cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies find their way into just about every industry. From flights to flowers, with a little bit of effort you can find someone willing to offer you the goods and services you want and need in exchange for a digital currency.
But one area that has generally avoided crypto has been the entertainment industry. While some forward-thinking brands have begun to embrace them, the general consensus is to wait. Why is this and what hurdles need to be overcome to change it?
Crypto in the iGaming Industry
At first glance, the iGaming industry looks ripe for disruption and revolution at the hands of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Firstly, the entire premise of iGaming is built on payments and trust. Customers deposit money into their accounts to place wagers on games and have to be confident that the casino will honour its side of the bargain if they win.
Secondly, the iGaming industry is incredibly competitive. Companies are always looking for ways to set themselves apart from their rivals, using promotions, branded games, and extra features. This has led to innovative features such as blackjack insurance and 21+3 that change the dynamic of classic games. For example, the rules of blackjack insurance allow a player to hedge against a loss if they see that the dealer has an ace. This creates more strategic options for players, offering them new challenges that aren’t available in the standard version of the game.
So, with casinos always looking for an edge, offering some form of crypto payment might seem like a great idea.
But in reality, blockchain technologies don’t currently offer anything new. Most iGaming companies already offer a wide range of payment methods and use random number generators to ensure fairness. They’re also licensed by government regulators to ensure they comply with all the rules, helping to create trust.
Therefore, for the iGaming industry to embrace crypto on any large scale, the technology will need to offer something new and unique.
Crypto in Streaming
At present, you can’t use cryptocurrencies to pay for any major streaming platform. These services have, instead, chosen to stick to traditional payment methods like Visa and Mastercard that rely on fiat currencies.
There are some outliers, such as Sling TV, which has partnered with Bitpay to allow its users to pay for its streaming service using a range of different digital currencies.
However, Bitpay is not a true implementation of cryptocurrencies as it involves taking the customer’s tokens and converting them into dollars instantly. In fact, on Bitpay’s own website it says businesses that use it will “never (have to) touch crypto” allowing them to have “no risk”.
For a one-off payment, crypto can work quite well. Microsoft accepts several major digital currencies in its online marketplace for when people want to buy games and other media.
But the volatility in the value of most major cryptocurrencies can make pricing a monthly streaming package quite difficult since the price would need to be updated on a daily basis. Netflix’s $9.99 package was worth 0.00284BTC back in January 2022 but rose to 0.00344BTC just a few months later.
Accepting cryptocurrencies can make it difficult for financial planning on a large scale, so it is better to avoid them for the time being.
As these tokens achieve more widespread adoption, then the volatility is likely to abate and will make them more attractive.
Until then, services like Bitpay will be the only solution for entertainment companies that are keen on embracing crypto.