When Bitcoin was brand new on the scene, one way that people could get their feet wet with this brand-new currency was to visit a faucet and get a few free bitcoins. The faucet that Bitcoin pioneer and former lead developer Gavin Andresen ran gave away a massive 5 bitcoins to each visitor. That faucet was purely altruistic, but was shut down years ago. Other faucets have popped up to fill the need, but the take on these is typically 600 to 2000 satoshis, or fractions of a cent at current valuations. What’s more, they’re often run by gambling sites as a way to draw people in and get new customers. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, and these faucets are still a good place to send people who want to learn about Bitcoin more-or-less risk free.
Another type of faucet I found just recently is paidbooks.com, a unique faucet that pays 250 satioshis for every ten minutes that you read one of the books on their site. The reason? According to the FAQ on their page, Paid Books merges the owner’s love of books and love of Bitcoin.
The top contender for Bitcoin altruism in the name of promoting Bitcoin that I’ve found recently is HotelGo24, a new hotel reservation system being run out of Poland on the Expedia Affiliate Network. HotelGo24 offers a 5% Bitcoin rebate for any purchase made with any participating hotel in its 130,000 hotel network of hotels. This means that after the rebate, HotelGo24 is often cheaper than its competitors and is giving people who might not otherwise be interested in Bitcoin a reason to check it out.
I caught up with Grzegorz Kowalski, founder of HotelGo24 and asked a few questions.
First I want to say that it’s fantastic that you folks are offering cash back in Bitcoin. More than accepting Bitcoin payments, it’s this kind of thing that is likely to get people to try out this new type of money. The fact is, though, that for a large part of the public, Bitcoin is a risky, maybe even nefarious, thing. Why are you promoting Bitcoin and how do you see it changing the world?
I think that a decentralized and virtual currency is the future of payments. We all have to learn how to use it safely. When I first got involved with Bitcoin and was mining them, I mostly concentrated on growth of Bitcoin’s value in fiat currency and my possible earnings. Over time, I have come to understand that the fiat value of Bitcoin is negligible and that its real value is in its cutting-edge technology. HotelGo24 offers people a way to experience using Bitcoins for free just by booking hotel rooms. They can see how to use Bitcoin in their everyday lives.
The BTC cash back program is really prominent on your site. What kind of response are you getting from people?
The feedback we’re getting is really good and interest in the program is slowly growing, especially among Bitcoin enthusiasts. Competition in the hotel booking market is really fierce, though, and it’s difficult to get the word about our platform out to people who have never heard about Bitcoin. Fortunately, a few travel blogs and news websites have found us and been kind enough to publish stories or features on us. That’s really and exciting and I’m hopeful that with their help we can increase our range.
Since people booking through your site are paying with credit cards, you have to purchase BTC in order to process the cash back. How do you buy your Bitcoin?
As I said before, I used to be a miner, so at the beginning I was giving away my own supplies. Now I mostly use Bitcoin exchanges such as BitBay.net.
Any plans to start accepting Bitcoin as a payment method? If not, why not?
We will not accept Bitcoin as a payment method in future. The reason for this is simple and it will not change. We have created HotelGo24 to allow people to get bitcoins and to try them out. It would be pointless, and somehow unfair, to ask our users to spend these Bitcoins by paying for our services. Don’t you think?
OK, now for some shameless self-promotion: What’s your best elevator pitch for why people should use HotelGo24?
There are two irrefutable reasons for using HotelGo24: First, you can book a room at the lowest possible price. Secondly, you can get the Bitcoin cash back. All in all, you save up to 5% of the price you would pay for the same room using some other services and… you get bitcoins! Also, it is good to know that HotelGo24 is a part of the Expedia Affiliate Network, which is known for offering good travel deals along with safety measures.
Some not-necessarily Bitcoin sites that have featured HotelGo24: