money (by philip taylor)

Money” (CC BY 2.0) by Philip Taylor PT

Hip hop stars are often ahead of the curve when it comes to business investments and the recent news that Bitcoin is now reaching new heights has proven that fact once again. Despite being around since 2009, Bitcoin’s adoption by mainstream companies has been slow at best.

In fact, after a fairly stagnant opening, the currency peaked in 2013 with a value of $1,136 per coin, but almost immediately plummeted. By 2015, a single Bitcoin was worth less than $250 and it looked as though its time in the spotlight was over. Today, however, things are very different and that’s something the likes of Jay Z, Nas and 50 Cent were able to foresee all the way back in 2014.

Hip Hop Entrepreneurs Spot a Gap in the Market

nas (by big ed mustapha)
NAS” (CC BY 2.0) by Big Ed Mustapha

Despite the currency being on the slide, all three hip hop icons decided to embrace the cryptocurrency as early adopters. Jay Z was the first to acknowledge the benefits of Bitcoin when he allowed the Chicago Sun Times to partner with a local ticket broker to sell concert tickets via special QR codes. The ads, which ran in the newspaper ahead of the Soldier Field concert, allowed readers to link directly to the seller’s page and buy a ticket using Bitcoin.

Where Jay Z leads, others typically follow and later in 2014, 50 Cent’s Shopify store added a Bitcoin payment option for his album Animal Ambition. Up until that point, Shopify’s partnership with BitPay had only seen a small number of independent artists embrace the new payment option. However, following 50 Cent’s move to embrace a new way to pay, BitPay’s executive chairman Tony Gallippi hailed the move as “outstanding.”

Of all the hip hop stars that have embraced Bitcoin, it’s perhaps Nas that saw the most potential in it. Through his venture capital firm, Queensbridge Venture Partners, Nas was shown the potential power of the online currency by Andreessen Horowitz’s Ben Horowitz.

“It will evolve into an industry as big, if not bigger, than the Internet. My man Ben Horowitz really opened my eyes to that point. This isn’t of the internet age, Bitcoin is its own age,” Nas told CoinDesk in 2014.

Early Faith in Currency Was Justified

money clip (by trinket dot com)
Money clip.” (CC BY 2.0) by BTC Trinkets .com

Although the naysayers would have questioned his sanity at the time, it now seems as though Nas was right. At the start of 2017, Bitcoin’s value edged closer to the $1,000 mark and by February 7 it topped $1,047 with Bitstamp. Part of the reason for this rally is the increase in Bitcoin-friendly platforms and shops.

For example, casino fans can now play all manner of games using the cryptocurrency. Thanks to Vegas Casino, gamers that want to maintain their anonymity while enjoying games such as Satoshi Baccarat and Rook’s Revenge can do so by depositing, betting and withdrawing funds using nothing but Bitcoin. Anonymity isn’t the sole reason why gamers opt for Bitcoin transactions either, as increased safety and convenience are also significant advantages.

Similarly, online traders can now use Bitcoin to invest in commodities such as precious metals and coins courtesy of AU Trading. Based in East London, the supplier of gold bullion and precious metal coins (including platinum) allows international customers to pay using Bitcoin. Indeed, because the currency isn’t restricted by geographical borders, customers in countries other than the UK can pay without being hit with extortionate currency conversion charges.

Beyond these two examples, consumers can now use Bitcoin to purchase everything from cheap flights and gadgets to a pint in their local bar. Although it’s fair to say the currency is still a long way from overtaking established monetary systems like the dollar or the pound, there’s no doubt it’s becoming more popular. In fact, with some predicting the price of a single coin could top $2,000 in 2017, it looks as though Jay Z, 50 Cent and Nas knew very well what they were doing back in 2014.