Back to the list

Will the US Ever Accept Bitcoin as Legal Tender?

10 February 2023 13:30, UTC

Bitcoin has been available since January 2009 and has had its share of ups and downs. Many people have expressed their opinion on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a whole but even those who have been negative must know it is here to stay. While millions of people own Bitcoin and use it online, will it ever have a more general use and become legal tender in the United States?

Current Use in Other Countries

Before we consider the possibility of Bitcoin becoming legal tender in the US, we can look at how other countries have adopted the cryptocurrency. At the time of writing, there is only one country that has fully adopted Bitcoin as legal tender and that is El Salvador. The move to Bitcoin in El Salvador was to tempt people to switch to the digital currency as a replacement for the US dollar. El Salvador are currently on their own in terms of their acceptance of Bitcoin but other nations with low GDPs could follow in their footstep. Bitcoin has also been transferred internationally to Ukraine as donations towards their war effort with Russia. All donations via cryptocurrency to Ukraine are legal and that has opened the question as to why Bitcoin has yet to be accepted as legal tender in the United States.

Bitcoin Use Online

Another common use of Bitcoin is for online entertainment and to make purchases online. Playing games at an online casino is a good example and many online casinos accept Bitcoin as a payment method. Could this be something that is adopted in land-based casinos? If so, the push to make Bitcoin legal tender in the US will grow. Many companies accept Bitcoin, including Microsoft, AT&T, Wikipedia (donations), Overstock, Subway, Twitch, and AMC. Some individual stores and cafes have chosen to accept Bitcoin based on the preferences of the individual owner. So, even though Bitcoin is not legal tender in the US, many people are already using it to make purchases.

Pros of Accepting Bitcoin as Legal Tender

Bitcoin is decentralized and that means transactions are not governed by a single entity in the same way they are with a bank or online payment service, such as PayPal. When using Bitcoin, there is no fear of restrictions. In addition, Bitcoin is fast and cheap to use, something which everyone will enjoy.

Cons of Accepting Bitcoin as Legal Tender

There are several regulatory questions surrounding Bitcoin that will need to be answered before it can become legal tender in the United States. The fact the price of Bitcoin can fluctuate a lot is also a problem. Legal tender has an expectation of stability and while that has not always been the case, we do not have anything as volatile as Bitcoin currently used as legal tender. If a business accepts 1BTC as payment for a product and an hour later the value of 1BTC drops, that leaves the seller out of pocket.

So, there are both pros and cons to the use of Bitcoin as legal tender. The US will be following the use of Bitcoin in El Salvador as a guide but for now, the acceptance of Bitcoin as legal tender in the United States seems distant.