Some have dismissed the cryptocurrency craze as something created by and for the Silicon Valley set, but digital tokens are hitting the mainstream. Last Wednesday, Coinbase, the US-based platform where cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are traded, debuted on the Nasdaq. The next day, the Miami-Dade county commissioner called for a cryptocurrency task force, which would allow residents to pay taxes, fees, and services with online currency, a potential win for the city attempting to become the country’s shiniest new tech hub. Meanwhile, crypto is gaining steam in the beauty world, particularly when it comes to paying for high ticket items, like cosmetic procedures and luxury beauty products.
“We have a group of patients who were early investors in cryptocurrency,” says Dr. Marc Everett, a New York-based plastic surgeon. “They saw an exponential return on original investments, and the recent Bitcoin boom resulted in significant assets that they weren’t expecting.”
As if falling into new money isn’t good enough, it’s all stashed in a fat virtual wallet that allows a patient to dip into thousands “while leaving the family bank account untouched," he says. (The same goes for any investments or retirement accounts.) For the patient who wants a little something done—with some discretion—surgeons like Everett have started accepted currency like Bitcoin as payment. As a benefit to the vendor, it’s also free of processing fees.
While some patients love crypto because it’s untraceable, others are using it simply because they just don’t have the cash, says Dr. Dara Liotta, a plastic surgeon who practices on New York's Upper East Side.
“They’re the tech person who was an early believer in cryptocurrency. They don’t have a high paying job—and therefore they don’t have disposable income—but they invested in Bitcoin early, so they can use that wallet,” she says.
It’s this sort of early adopter spirit that draws this sort of spender to ultra-luxury services, says Ben Krigler, the fifth generation perfumer to the house of Krigler, which started accepting cryptocurrency in 2017.
“The new Bitcoin millionaires are interested in the process of how luxury goods are made, and they ask highly specific questions,” says Krigler, who works with clients on bespoke fragrances that can take a year to produce and cost upwards of $10,000. “They want to know which country I’m sourcing the vanilla, and they’ll offer to meet me there. They have a vision.”
The original crypto clients aren’t just rich, but curious. “Remember, people were mocking them in the beginning!” says Krigler. “They saw value in something that was only a few hundred dollars at one point, but kept doing their research and believed in the product. They took a risk.” Krigler says this sophisticated, research-heavy way of thinking applies to all of their decisions, from making a $200 investment to committing to the right ylang ylang and neroli eau de parfum.
So will this trend trickle down to the more accessible realms of the beauty world? Will we pay for haircuts in Bitcoin, or eyeliner in Ethereum? “It’s definitely the future of paying,” says Liotta. “But it’s not going to replace the dollar.”
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