The Pros and Cons of Accepting Cryptocurrency Payments for Ecommerce
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, safely away from Elon Musk’s Tweets, you’ll be familiar with cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin have all entered our global vernacular, and digital currencies that were formerly associated with dark, anonymous transactions have now gone popular. Bitcoin alone accounts for over $6 billion in daily transactions, and while some regard cryptocurrencies as a financial asset rather than currency, an increasing number of businesses are accepting it as payment.
Today, you can use bitcoin to plan a vacation on Expedia, buy a Starbucks coffee at the airport, pay for your stay at a Pavilion Hotels & Resorts, and even buy a Coca Cola from a vending machine if you’ve flown to Australia.
So, in order to prevent falling behind, do you need to accept bitcoin payments on your ecommerce store using a cryptocurrency payment gateway? It’s not an easy question to answer, thanks in part to the barrage of skewed cryptocurrency information that floods the internet daily. Nonetheless, weighing the benefits and downsides should help you decide if you should follow Elon to the moon or stay put on Earth.
Advantage — Diversification
This one is self-evident. Increasing the number of payment choices accessible on your e-commerce business can only increase the number of clients who can buy from you. Accepting bitcoin won’t simply draw the crypto believers and those opposed to handing their details to a credit card provider though, you’ll also be opening up your store to the world’s vast unbanked population.
Disadvantage: The lack of universality
Despite the phenomenal surge in cryptocurrency usage and the aforementioned diversification options, it must be stated that cryptocurrencies are far from ubiquitous. While the barrier to entry is decreasing, it still requires a greater degree of tech-savviness to acquire cryptocurrencies and buy items with them than it does to use a credit or debit card.
Advantage — Lower Transaction Fees
Whereas banks and credit card companies typically charge high transaction fees ranging from 1.3 to 3.5 percent (not including the payment processor’s fee), cryptocurrency transactions frequently do not have fees, and if they do, they can be as low as 1%. On a large scale, a minor percentage point movement like that could have a huge influence on your bottom line. If you could convert enough of your traditional credit card sales to cryptocurrency sales, the savings would be enormous, and you could pass these savings on to your customers in the form of discounts, driving sales even further.
However, while there are discounts to be obtained at the point of purchase, if you do not do your homework, you may get stung when it comes time to convert your Bitcoin into fiat currency. With rates often high and transaction costs frequently involved, you could lose all of your funds when converting your crypto to fiat, so tread carefully, as Walter White would say.
Even if you last checked the dollar-euro exchange rate a few months ago, you could probably make a good guess as to what it is today. Not so with cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s price has dropped from $60,000 in April to $30,000 just two months later. With such large variations in value occurring on a regular basis (actually, Bitcoin is more stable than a lot of other coins), eCommerce merchants are at risk of being hit in the pocket if they are not cautious.
Advantage: Customer Loyalty
Few concepts, currencies, or financial instruments have a more devoted internet following than cryptocurrencies. Derivatives and stock options don’t usually pique the interest of millions of young men (and largely young men) enough to consume an insane amount of white papers, blog posts, and YouTube videos, but Bitcoin does.
While it is true that much of the fervor stems from the perception that cryptocurrency is a quick way to make money, that doesn’t mean eCommerce stores can’t capitalize on it. Accepting cryptocurrency payments demonstrates to these communities that your business is paying attention to them, and they will reward you with loyalty, especially real believers who want cryptocurrencies to gain widespread adoption. On May 22, 2010, a man in Florida purchased two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins, which is still celebrated by enthusiasts. Those 10,000 coins, by the way, are now worth over half a billion dollars.
Disadvantage: Looming Regulation
Unfortunately for all those enthusiasts, there is growing concern that cryptocurrencies (at least decentralized coins) have already had their day in the sun. Governments around the world are cracking down on cryptocurrencies for a variety of reasons, including their environmental impact due to the massive amount of computing power (and thus electricity) required to keep the networks running, as well as the lack of state oversight over decentralized currencies. In May 2021, the Chinese government banned cryptocurrency transactions, and several provinces have also prohibited cryptocurrency mining, which is the process of solving mathematical equations using computing power to generate new units of currency.
Several governments, like China, are establishing their own virtual currencies, backed by central banks, in an attempt to supplant cryptocurrencies outside the authority of financial regulators.
What does this all mean for an ecommerce store that accepts cryptocurrencies? To put it bluntly, it could mean that all of your efforts to make your site crypto-ready are rendered ineffective with the stroke of a pen. While few governments have clamped down on cryptocurrency as hard as China has, the signs aren’t promising.
Is it better to start accepting cryptocurrency or not?
Ultimately, whether you accept cryptocurrency on your ecommerce site is determined by one factor: your customers.
If you’re a B2C company and your consumers are clamouring for the ability to pay you with Bitcoin, it’s worth investigating. If you’re a B2B company, your customers’ needs, as well as the flexibility of your contracting procedure, come into play.