Pay with crypto at Whole Foods, Gamestop and other retailers

Flexa's Spedn app can act as if you're paying with regular cash.

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S3studio/Getty Images

It's been difficult to spend cryptocurrencies at retail due to the technical and regulatory headaches associated with it, but that might not be an issue at some stores in the near future. Flexa has launched a payment network and a companion iOS app, Spedn, that should let you spend digital currency at major retailers like Baskin Robbins, Gamestop and Whole Foods. You just bring up a barcode at the register and the merchant scans it in -- if they don't directly accept crypto, the payment network converts your funds into conventional money in real time.

Spedn works with Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and the Winklevoss twins' US dollar-linked Gemini. Android support is "coming soon." And the feature doesn't require new point-of-sale hardware -- companies just have to configure their scanners to allow Spedn to work, according to Fortune.

It's hard to say if this will take off. Cryptocurrencies outside of those linked to conventional money still tend to be volatile. Do you want to spend Bitcoin getting ice cream when it could cost you significantly more one day than the next? Spedn still makes crypto far more practical for in-person spending, though, and shops may like it simply because it skips the usual fees they send to payment networks. If there's enough demand, you could see virtual cash accepted at larger retailers as a matter of course.

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