Regardless of how people feel about cryptocurrencies, one topic of discussion that arises frequently is whether there will ever be a point of widespread adoption of crypto among retailers.
And if it does ever happen, is it going to happen anytime soon?
A Cryptocurrency Executive Notes a Rise in Merchants Accepting Bitcoin
Often, before a trend firmly takes hold in society, the people who are most “in the know” about the matter spot promising signs before the mainstream public. So, it’s a good sign that Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer at BitPay, reports seeing “a large increase in demand” from merchants ready to accept Bitcoin. Singh further clarifies that companies of all sizes have been open to the idea.
Rumors perpetually swirl that Amazon might be on the verge of accepting Bitcoin. Some sources indicate that unnamed people at the company mention how such discussions have arisen more than once.
While there is still a lack of substantial evidence that Amazon will soon let people pay with Bitcoin, the growing momentum from other merchants doing so could give Amazon the motivation it needs to fulfill the rumors in 2019. Overstock, Newegg and Microsoft are a few major brands that already accept Bitcoin in some capacity, and Amazon typically doesn’t like to get left behind.
Starbucks Has a Connection to a Company in the Crypto Sector
Starbucks isn’t always an early adopter when it comes to new ways to pay, but it often plays a role in helping the larger public see new technologies as legitimate. That’s why people got excited when, in May 2018, news broke of the coffee giant, among some other big-name companies, having ties to Bakkt, a company that converts cryptocurrencies to fiat currencies.
In a statement about Bakkt, Starbucks was referred to as “the flagship retailer” associated with the company, and many individuals took that as a strong hint that perhaps Starbucks will be the first company associated with Bakkt that offers the choice to pay for things with cryptocurrencies.
And there are other brands that may follow Starbucks’ lead in 2019. Unfortunately, most such news does not have solid evidence to back it up, making it difficult or impossible to predict the prominence of cryptocurrency next year.
Merchants Using Square Are Ready for Bitcoin Payments
Retailers that are interested in taking cryptocurrencies as payment could purchase dedicated terminals solely for those transactions.
However, some may opt to do so by working with providers they already partner with to take other forms of payment, such as Square. For example, Cash App — a mobile payment option related to Square — began offering a Bitcoin integration in early 2018.
A poll of 100 retailers who use Square and make at least $100,000 in annual revenue showed 60 percent were open to accepting Bitcoin instead of American dollars. Despite the small sample size of the study, the results show that cryptocurrency adoption is not as foreign as some people outside of the retail sector may think.
Retailers May Miss Out on Opportunities to Profit
A study by CreditCoin, a cryptocurrency purchasing website based in the United Kingdom, found that 75 percent of people would spend cryptocurrencies in point-of-sale transactions if such opportunities existed. Interestingly, that same research revealed that 80 percent of the respondents who have cryptocurrencies thought they were merely for investment purposes until being told otherwise.
Together, these statistics suggest that by not accepting cryptocurrencies, merchants may be denying themselves potential opportunities to boost profits, especially from people who consider cryptocurrencies their preferred methods of payment.
Indeed, some of those customers may buy things in an establishment no matter what. But in the same way a retailer with a credit card terminal offers more options to consumers than cash-only sellers, a merchant who accepts cryptocurrency could potentially broaden their market reach.
Then, considering that the majority of people polled in the CreditCoin study didn’t know they could use cryptocurrencies to buy things, that statistic illustrates how merchants could set themselves apart while also capitalizing on the chance to inform consumers and get press coverage for their decision to make cryptocurrency a payment choice.
By themselves, those statistics don’t build a case for whether more retailers will accept cryptocurrency in 2019. But they do illustrate why merchants who don’t are potentially ignoring valuable chances.
Increasing Options for Accepting Cryptocurrencies
A positive reality for retailers is that they have a continually growing number of possibilities when choosing how to accept cryptocurrencies. For example, a site called Blockonomics helps retailers start receiving Bitcoin payments in minutes via open-source plugins.
Also, restaurants in Singapore recently appealed to over 8,000 attendees of Consensus, a blockchain-oriented conference. Select cuisine providers accepted cryptocurrency payments through the PundiX point-of-service terminal, which is compatible with 15 cryptocurrencies.
Advocates argue that flexibility and ease of use are two of the things that could spur widespread adoption. It’s also helpful that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently ruled it will not regulate Ethereum because the cryptocurrency is not a security.
Before that decision, many people were nervous about how the influence of regulatory capture in government could stifle cryptocurrency’s growth. But that decision could have the opposite effect and help it flourish.
Education is another factor that encourages merchants to accept cryptocurrencies. As retailers learn about the choices available to them, urged in part by some of the outlets that already let people pay with cryptocurrencies, adoption will likely happen faster than some expect.
Some Downsides Exist
Even as more and more merchants decide to branch out and take Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in exchange for goods and services, some aspects may make retailers reluctant to take the plunge. One of the primary concerns is that cryptocurrencies are volatile, and some merchants view them as too risky because of that non-stability.
Additionally, the CreditCoin study mentioned above highlighted how people mainly think of their cryptocurrencies as investments and may not even realize they can spend them. If people hold onto their cryptocurrencies in hopes of eventually growing their wealth, they won’t feel eager to buy things with them.
Brands Are Warming Up to Cryptocurrencies
The lack of hard evidence showing which brands will accept cryptocurrencies in 2019 is undoubtedly frustrating for people ready to spend their digital currency.
Conversely, it is also promising even to have names like Amazon and Starbucks potentially tapped for allowing cryptocurrency payments. Uncertainty remains, but hopeful signs also prevail.
Photo by Bitcoin BCH