AMC just announced that you will soon be able to buy your movie ticket, some popcorn, and soda with bitcoin. As of yesterday, one bitcoin will get you 3,311 adult movie tickets at AMC.
But if you want just one ticket and some popcorn, you will have a bit of a hassle.
During its investor conference call, AMC said it would accept bitcoin payments for online purchases of tickets and concession items by the end of 2021.
They will join Burger King, Microsoft, Subway, and 36 percent of all small and midsize businesses that also accept bitcoin. Briefly, before Elon Musk changed his mind, it would have been easier to buy a $100,000 car with bitcoin than a $7.75 roast beef footlong.
Spending bitcoin involves a fluctuating transaction fee. Currently close to $2.50, it has topped $60. According to a Cornell professor, in 2019, the fee determined how long you had to wait for your purchase to become a blockchain (bookkeeping) entry. Paying more expedited the process. It could have shortened a multi-hour wait for a $7.00 sandwich. Now though, payment options are more varied.
But still, the big question is who pays the fee. If the answer is you and me, then we would be adding $2.50 or more–at least 18 percent– to a $13.69 AMC adult ticket. Less crucially, a switch from popcorn to skittles (and all other concession changes) at the theater might be prohibited.
Recently, the bitcoin average transaction fee ranged from more than $60 to less than $3.00:
During March, Starbuck conducted a cryptocurrency experiment. To use bitcoin for your latte, you needed two apps. First, the Bakkt app does the converting. Then, once bitcoin (or some other cryptocurrency) becomes U.S. dollars, they can be added to your Starbucks card. Another possibility (according to Medium) is the Spedn app. Here you have a wallet that holds your cryptocurrency. Then, before your Starbucks visit, you need to create a Starbucks barcode that the Starbucks barista will scan. (No article said who pays the transaction fee.)
Our Bottom Line: Transaction Costs
A transaction cost is the equivalent of friction. It slows down what you are trying to accomplish. The documents we fill out for health insurance or a time-consuming hierarchy of recorded messages before accessing a person are called transaction costs. Not involving money, they still have a cost because economists define cost as sacrifice. Time is a cost. Aggravation is a cost. When they slow a process, we call them transaction costs.
Because using bitcoin as currency involves a high transaction cost, you might not use it at AMC.
My sources and more: Gizmodo and The Washington Post reminded me that it was time to return to bitcoin. Perplexed about variable transaction fees, I discovered this paper. But then this Food & Wine article somewhat clarified the payment process. (Please note that the bitcoin transaction fee can be different from my examples. Apparently related to how you convert, the fee from Coinbase is 2.49 percent of each purchase.)