The worldwide Bitcoin acceptance
Bitcoin is big. Every day, more new people search for it on web and become interested in its possible uses. Internet users from all over the world rejoice at the news of further and wider Bitcoin acceptance by merchants, big corporations and small coffee shops alike.
In 2014, a range of businesses that accept Bitcoin extended. Overstock, Newegg, Virgin Galactic, Tigerdirect, OKCupid, Zynga, and Microsoft are a few players to name among those who started accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. Their number is still too small, but the trend towards broader adoption is evident. CoinMap, a map-based informational resource, lists over 6200 physical locations which have welcomed Bitcoin as a payment option. It’s not a lot, but impressive nevertheless. Besides, not every store owner has managed to include their businesses to the map yet, which implies there are more of them.
Why do merchants need to start accepting Bitcoin?
Despite the positive trend, the reality remains modest. The community on forums and Reddit is raving about the lack of Bitcoin adoption. They all agree on the fact that effort should be put into making the cryptocurrency more popular among the merchants, so that every grocery store around the corner finally accepts Bitcoin.
The first question that arises is, “How to increase the number of businesses that accept Bitcoin?” To answer it, we should provide the reasons for merchants to adopt Bitcoin.
1. Bitcoin is easy.
Easy means more customers will eventually want to use it provided that they know of it.
2. Bitcoin is a trend.
Cryptocurrency is growing popular among young people who are excited about technology and all the novel things out there. They are likely to try something new if it’s interesting for them. They are ready for the challenges and willing to accept them.
Imagine that you own a coffee shop. You have your primary client base, which mostly consists of people who live nearby and come to your place for their cup of morning coffee. Even if you are well-known in the neighbourhood, there is still a competition going on. Today, if a coffee shop accepts Bitcoin, it automatically becomes a target for Bitcoin enthusiasts who either travel and visit spots accepting Bitcoin as a part of their tourist activity (a quest), or those who take a challenge and deliberately try to stay away from paying with cards or cash. As a bonus, you will surely get your free advertising on an international forum.
3. Bitcoin is relatively cheap.
When using credit cards, your customer pays several percent to the banks and some fixed amount as a fee. Every swipe costs them more while taking away the profit which could have been yours. A business that accepts Bitcoin benefits from paying no fees to the banks. Moreover, Bitcoin allows no chargebacks, which eliminates all the headache associated with this procedure.
Popular merchant solutions
Fortunately, there are various options for a merchant who accepts Bitcoin. They include wallets or wallet apps, special QR code-generating software (mobile apps), and hardware terminals. They can be also classified as Person-to-Person and Point-of-Sale solutions. Let us start with the simplest one – a wallet, as you will need it anyway. You can set up a wallet of your choice, and we have posted some tips and options previously.
Person-to-Person Bitcoin payments
Bitcoin wallet apps allow customers pay on location with their smartphones. For a merchant, it is not even necessary to use one – they can just print out the QR code for their Bitcoin address and place it next to the counter for the customers to scan and pay. Person-to-Person payments work like cash, but digitally.
As an alternative to ordinary wallets, something like CoinBox can be used by a merchant who accepts Bitcoin. These solutions operate like a usual mobile app, but instead of letting a customer enter the amount manually, the merchant can generate a QR code which already contains information on the sum.
Point-of-Sale options for accepting Bitcoin
If your business is more than a tiny snack spot, and you deal with large or considerably large amounts of money, or if you just want to receive payments in a more merchant-friendly way, you should consider POS (Point-of-Sale) solutions. There is a number of providers among which a business that accepts Bitcoin can choose among, for example, CoinBase, BIPS, Blockchain Merchant, Paystand, and BitPay. The latter has recently partnered with Ayden payment processor, which may result in companies like Facebook, Spotify, and AirBnb learning how to accept Bitcoin.
Every service provider will offer its specific set of features. For example, some of them are known for 0% fees, many have an option of storing and archiving invoices, and some offer plugins for e-commerce solutions, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, etc.
Point-of-Sale Bitcoin terminals
As an option, you might consider getting one of the hardware Bitcoin payment terminals. They operate just like usual payment terminals, but are developed specifically for the cryptocurrency. You will find CoinKite hardware devices extremely user-friendly. Also, the XBTerminal company provides payment terminals of a sort which provide multiple choices of making a payment – using a QR code, via NFS or Bluetooth. Even with no Internet access, the question of how to accept Bitcoin with such a machine becomes as easy as pie courtesy of Bluetooth technology.
Installing a Bitcoin ATM
A merchant who is about to accept Bitcoin might consider installing a Bitcoin ATM at their bricks-and-mortar retail stores. This will both help to raise awareness among the clients and increase customer flow to the place. There have been good examples of how introducing a BTM affects, or at least vivifies, the business. One of them is Berlin-based restaurant Room 77 which had a machine like this for some time, but for demonstrational purposes only.
The most sophisticated BTMs are functioning two-way – both serving as a cash dispenser machine (it accepts Bitcoin if it has a QR reader installed) and a terminal to buy Bitcoins.
Taxes for merchants that accept Bitcoin
If you are a business owner who wants to do everything “the right way” and to be transparent with your income, then you would probably wonder how to accept Bitcoin in a way which allows paying taxes. Unfortunately, this issue has not been resolved yet, as Bitcoin regulation is lacking all over the world. While the UK-based policy-makers are trying to understand the complexity and possible uses of cryptocurrencies, and the NYSDFS is giving its BitLicense some shape, some time has to pass before the governments acknowledge the existence and usability of Bitcoin.
Meanwhile, it is suggested that businesses that accept Bitcoin treat it as either a foreign currency or a commodity like gold or platinum. What would you do if you started accepting payments in ounces of platinum or in Norwegian krones (while operating in the US)? It is now similar with Bitcoin payments. In most cases, conversion to the local currency should be made when filing taxes.
Advertising a merchant that accepts Bitcoin
One of the most important steps that a retailer who accepts Bitcoin should take is do some advertising. There are standardised signs saying, “Bitcoin accepted here” which you can stick to your shop’s window or somewhere next to the counter, so that people can see what payment options you have. Some business owners might prefer being a bit louder with their cryptocurrency-friendly attitude by ordering neon or LED signs with a Bitcoin logo. Anyway, you can always use some creativity and express yourself and your spot in a unique colourful way.
If you happened to be a business owner wondering about how to accept Bitcoin, you should take care of the payment or wallet provider and choose among several available solutions: Person-to-Person or Point-of-Sale. Once you have made yourself familiar with cryptocurrency payments, you may want to make it a public announcement. Using stickers and visible signs would be very good both for raising awareness of the crypto among general population and for making sure that no Bitcoin enthusiast gets past you. Also, the very moment your business accepts Bitcoin, add it to CoinMap directory – this way, the whole international community will acknowledge you putting you on their to-do list of places to visit when they are nearby.