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Yes, Bitcoin Black Friday is a real thing, and it's catching on

By Michael Carney , written on November 25, 2014

From The News Desk

You could forgive crypto-currency news sites and startups for evangelizing retailers offering deals only available to those paying in bitcoin this Black Friday – or as many are calling it, “Bitcoin Black Friday.” But what’s less predictable, and thus speaks more loudly about the progress the industry has made over the last year, is the fact that mainstream news organizations like ABC and NBC have jumped on the bandwagon.

ABCnews.com baits its audience with the headline, “Find Out Which Stores Will Accept Bitcoin on Black Friday.” Host Rebecca Jarvis opens the video segment by saying:

The national federation of retailers predicts sales to grow eight to 11% compared to last year but. Getting consumers to spend their box in your store it's not so easy. So this holiday season retailers are getting creative and going be on the job dropping deals. My next guest says they are accepting bitcoin. To win your business.
NBCnews.com takes a similar approach in its story, “Get Ready for Bitcoin Black Friday Deals”:
Black Friday is an event that has spawned all sorts of retail spin-offs. First came Cyber Monday, a second bite at the apple from online retailers. Then there was the slow creep into Thanksgiving Day. Two years ago, Bitcoin Black Friday made its debut, and it's a holiday tradition that's quickly gaining ground.
Bitcoin Black Friday is minuscule by comparison to many retail trends this holiday season, but has seen huge growth from its humble beginnings two years ago. As NBC notes, the inaugural event saw just 50 participating merchants. Last year, that number grew to 600 official merchants and more than $6 million total bitcoin sales. This year, BitcoinBlackFriday.com founder Jon Holmquist is targeting 6,000 merchants, suggesting that the concept is rapidly progressing from niche to more mainstream. By some accounts, there are 80,000 merchants that accept bitcoin worldwide, suggesting there’s more room to grow.

Despite the obvious hiccups of the Mt. Gox collapse, the anti-bitcoin stance by Chinese regulators, and uncertainty around New York’s BitLicense, 2014 has been a good year for merchant bitcoin adoption. A number of household names like Dell, Overstock, TigerDirect, NewEgg, and Expedia have jumped on the bandwagon, as have several major payment processors including PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, and Shopify as well as POS systems like SoftTouch and VisualTouch. So it should come as little surprise that Bitcoin Black Friday would be a bigger deal this year than last. This year’s deals will be revealed on Thanksgiving Day, and the company teased a few participating merchants in a Bitcointalk announcement.

One thing working against Bitcoin Black Friday, is that this is, traditionally, a day that consumers spend their time shopping at brick and mortar merchants, reserving their online deal-hunting for so-called Cyber Monday. Given this, an ecommerce-focused bitcoin shopping event bucks the prevailing trend. But given the respectable transaction volume last year, and Holmquist’s lofty expectations for continued growth in 2014, it appears those concerns are misplaced. Maybe that says more about bitcoin’s core demographic than anything else.

But where the real opportunity lays, and where the attention from mainstream news outlets like ABC News and NBC News is so crucial, is in seeing this retail event drive bitcoin adoption and transaction volume among non-bitcoin users. With the majority of consumers looking for deals on the 28th, this could be as good of an opportunity as any to convert those not already participating in the bitcoin economy.

Bitcoin will represent a small portion of the transactional volume occurring this November 28th, but the very fact that it holds a portion – not to mention a piece of the national conversation – should be considered a win. We’ll know more fully next week how much of a victory for the bitcoin economy this holiday season has been.