The list of places that accept Bitcoin has grown into the thousands – making it hard to believe just one year ago this virtual currency was more associated with criminals than consumers.
Initially considered by some to be a rogue electronic currency best suited for trading on the black market, Bitcoin has quickly become a legitimate payment option for retailers worldwide.
Even government officials are beginning to back Bitcoin. Several high-ranking officials spoke to the legitimacy of Bitcoins at a Congressional hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Nov. 18. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote to the committee that Bitcoin "may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system."
One thing concerning Bitcoin skeptics: price fluctuation. The Bitcoin price has fluctuated greatly in the last year. In January, one Bitcoin was worth a modest $13. Just today (Wednesday), it peaked at $1,073 at midday.
But while they debate over the future of Bitcoin, more retailers have listed the virtual currency as an accepted means of payment.
Here are the five most surprising places now accepting Bitcoin.
Five Surprising Places to Use Bitcoin
#1: The University of Nicosia: Those attending the largest private university in Cyprus can now pay their tuition fees with Bitcoins, and according to the university's chief financial officer, it is the first university in the world to accept the virtual currency.
According to the university, there was a large demand to accept Bitcoin from international students. For many, traditional banking services are not easily accessible, and they often face steep fines for international banking.
If a student wants to pay for tuition, fees, books, or even their on-campus meals, the university accepts the Bitcoin payment and immediately converts it to euros. This eliminates any of the currency fluctuation risk for the university.
#2: OKCupid.com: What's a better first-date ice breaker than discussing the hottest new virtual currency?
The dating site's premium account, called "A-List," charges users $10 a month for a variety of exclusive perks like ad-free browsing, extra photo albums, and increased mailbox size. Now the site has partnered with Coinbase, a platform for buying and selling Bitcoin. That allows users to pay their monthly fee in Bitcoin, depending on the daily exchange value of the currency.
"There's no question that these digital currencies are going to be the future," OKCupid Chief Executive Officer Sam Yagan told Forbes. "Whether it's actually the form of Bitcoins or evolves into something else, we want to be out in front. We want to be the ones who have the experience. There's a lot to learn."