Bitcoin has a mixed reputation. For some people, it’s black market money that only computer whizzes value, while for others it’s a brand new currency that eliminates those ever-frustrating bank fees. Let’s straighten out a few things first.
What Does Bitcoin Even Stand for?
If the term Bitcoin has you frowning your face in confusion, don’t worry, it can be a difficult concept to grasp. It’s not a physical coin, so it doesn’t weigh down any pockets. Instead, it is an entirely digital currency separated from governments and banks. Rather than being run through banks, it’s organised via a network known as a blockchain, which is basically a collection of ledgers that keep track of every transaction made with Bitcoin.
This separation from the bank means Bitcoin sidesteps traditional bank charge fees which ultimately increase the cost of everything. Instead, it can be transferred straight from person to person, person to business, or business to person without picking up those pesky fees along the way. But Bitcoin is not a new currency, so why is there so much talk around it at the moment?
That’s partly because the digital world is expanding by the day, and partly because more and more people are purchasing things online, so it makes sense to have a currency that lives entirely online. While in the past few years, we witnessed a growth of Bitcoin transactions, in 2017 the number of transactions processed by the network on a daily basis was rather stagnant. However, the total value transacted per day increased significantly during the period under review.
If you’ve never used Bitcoin before, there are several tools out there, like Crypto Voucher, that let you buy and experiment with a small amount to test the waters. This can be a great way to introduce yourself to the currency and learn more about how you can integrate it as a payment option.
The Benefits of Using Bitcoin for Your eCommerce Store
It takes some getting used to it – offering the chance to pay with a completely new currency that isn’t even something tangible. But there are plenty of benefits that come with it.
Bitcoin Payments are “Push” Transactions
All cryptocurrencies (of which Bitcoin is one) are “push” transactions, which means the purchaser initiates them. This makes chargebacks to the business impossible. It also means that your online store has no need to hold customer payment information, which means there’s no way anyone can steal sensitive information from you.
No Processing Fees and Faster Payments
Bitcoin transactions are processed immediately, which means there’s no waiting time for checks and credit card payments to go through the bank and be accepted. And, because there are no banks involved at all, payments are processed on the spot, which means you get your money as soon as the customer clicks “buy”.
Once you accept payments, you can instantly exchange them for national currencies through third-party processors – for many cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin included, there is a very small fee to convert currencies.
Say Farewell to Fraud?
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Bitcoin for your customers is the fact they don’t have to hand over their personal details. Unlike debit or credit card payments where vital and sensitive information is needed to process the payment, Bitcoin flies solo.
Payments can be made anonymously, meaning you don’t hold any of your customer’s information and, therefore, don’t have to fret about names, birthdays, and addresses getting stolen.
Get Ahead of the Game
Bitcoin is undoubtedly a thing of the future, and getting in on it now will put you head and shoulders above your competitors.
For starters, offering more types of payment options increases the opportunity to reach more potential buyers. And, because of its instant nature, you’re speeding up the customer experience and boosting customer satisfaction quicker. Not to mention the fact that it’ll make you an industry leader and can help you build brand awareness. Big names are already latching on to the trend. Microsoft, Expedia, Overstock, Newegg, Shopify have already begun to integrate payment options for Bitcoin.
The Downsides of Using Bitcoin for Your eCommerce Store
As is the nature of anything, with benefits come downsides. Bitcoin is still a relatively new payment method, which means there’s a lot of skepticism still circulating around it.
Black Market Money
In its early days, Bitcoin was often associated with what’s known as the dark web. During that era, it was used to pay for questionable services and was renowned for being a seedy monetary method to aid illegal markets. And we all know how difficult it is to shake first impressions.
Today, it still retains some of that black market shine amongst everyday consumers or those who know little about it, which will take some time to disappear. Though it’s used for much more than black market services today, it still has its dark past etched all over it. This might make some customers skip over your brand if they see you associated with it in any way.
Extra Reassurance for Customers
Because of its shady past, you might find yourself needing to convince customers that it’s not all bad. Despite not needing key customer information to process a purchase, it’s still necessary to reassure customers that their information will be safe – particularly with a payment method that is carried out and processed entirely online with no government or bank guidelines to abide by. That being said, this is relatively easy to do by installing an SSL certificate onto your website.
There are plenty of companies that offer SSL encryption to help safeguard customers’ data, so this shouldn’t be a huge problem if you decide to go ahead and integrate Bitcoin payments on your site.
So, Should Your eCommerce Store Accept Bitcoin?
Grappling with new technology is always a challenge, especially when money is involved. But Bitcoin isn’t just a flash-in-the-pan fad.
In 2015, cryptocurrency payments began to come into their own thanks to benefits that outweigh those of traditional payments. As well as speeding up process times, decreasing the chance of fraud, and eliminating any nasty bank fees, Bitcoin is also great for cross-border payments, micropayments, multi-user payments, and automated payments.
The key thing to bear in mind is: what do your customers want? Plenty of payment solutions have expanded in recent years to integrate hundreds of different payment methods, currencies, and languages, and Bitcoin is just another way to pay – a way that may or may not be favored by your customers (the people who make or break your business).
It looks like Bitcoin is around to stay and integrating it sooner rather than later might help your business in the long run.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket…
That being said, it’s highly unlikely that Bitcoin is going to overtake national currencies in the near future, particularly when it comes to everyday online transactions like online shopping and digital download purchases. So, while you might consider accepting Bitcoins as one additional payment option amongst others, they shouldn’t be your only method of payment – that seems like a no-brainer though, right?
It all boils down to serving your customers in the best way you can, and if by offering them a different way to pay means they have a better buying experience, then what’s the harm in that?