Yesterday, TigerDirect.com announced that they would be accepting Bitcoins as an official form of payment for purchases made on their website. They also put up a page that explains how one can obtain Bitcoins and how you can pay for products on TigerDirect using Bitcoins. While I’m not sure if TigerDirect is doing this for marketing purposes or because they want to be Bitcoin-friendly, either way they’re going to get a lot of people’s attention by assuming such a risk. Now, if they have a method of converting those Bitcoins directly into cash then I don’t think they are assuming much risk.

While I commend TigerDirect for helping Bitcoin to continue to gain legitimacy (and probably other cryptocurrencies as a side effect), they made a grave mistake on their own website describing Bitcoin. And frankly, it assumes that Bitcoin’s computational capabilities and number crunching is actually accomplishing something, but it really doesn’t. TigerDirect’s post states, "Bitcoin miners run specific software on their computers to help collectively solve very large and complex problems. Much like "SETI at Home" or "Folding at Home"." The problem with this is that SETI and F@H both actually accomplish a beneficial task for humanity or at least attempt to do so through the distributed computing of incredibly complicated deep space signal or protein folding problems.

TigerDirect’s QR Code for Bitcoin

It really bothers me every time that I bring up Bitcoin mining when people ask me what exactly is being done with all of that computational power. And the truth is, nothing other than waste electricity (which adds to the fundamental value of any cryptocurrency). I asked myself this question during the early days of Bitcoin mining and it was one of the reasons why I simply didn’t partake. Obviously, this was a foolish decision considering that Bitcoins are now worth in the hundreds of dollars per coin. And at the time I was exploring Bitcoin mining they were relatively easy to obtain but they were incredibly inexpensive and the price didn’t justify the electricity consumption and the lack of any benefit to humanity. I’ve happily done Folding at Home (F@H) in the past with absolutely no monetary gain but still enjoyed donating my computing capacity and paying a bit for the electricity.

Heck, if anything, these projects should introduce their own crytocurrencies that pay people with ‘coins’ for their work so that there is some intrinsic value to society in the coins. Not to mention the fact that their workloads can vary and some workloads can be paid out with a single coin and others with multiple coins. Anyways, cryptocurrencies have hit certain snags, but they also continue to pick up momentum. Even Airbnb’s CEO was contemplating publicly on Twitter whether or not Airbnb should accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.