In recent news there has been a lot of buzz around an emerging digital currency called Bitcoin. If you're not already aware of Bitcoin, it is a cryptographic currency developed for creating secure and mostly anonymous online payments. One of the best introductions to the Bitcoin currency overall can be seen in the video below.
Bitcoin for business could offer a lot of promise as a payment solution in the digital age and for that reason many entrepreneurs are starting to take note. In fact there have been several recent investments in Bitcoin companies such as CoinBase and BitPay by major players in the tech space. Armed with this validation the question on a lot of entrepreneurs mind is whether their business should accept Bitcoins.
Should You Start Accepting Bitcoins in Your Business?
Whilst I'd love to give a yes or no answer it isn't quite that simple yet. There are a lot of things that will have implications as to where you fall on the fence to that question. A few things that you will want to think about are:
- Will you directly transfer bitcoins into fiat currency i.e. USD, GBP, EUR, etc?
- Do you see bitcoins as currency that you will use or as an investment?
- Are you happy holding a currency that tends to fluctuate in value on a mostly upward trend?
- How easy is it to integrate with your current payment solutions?
- Will your customers actually use and pay bitcoin?
(Hint: You might find new ones by accepting bitcoin!)
After asking those questions in my web and marketing services business I decided that I was ready to accept bitcoins and set out to get started. Once again I was faced with the reality of working with an emerging currency…
How To Actually Accept Bitcoins
The current options for accepting bitcoin for business on an automated basis are fairly limited right now. If you are providing services on a personalised basis you can easily create receiving addresses with the bitcoin wallet software that is available, however using bitcoin as a merchant or retailer with managing the whole process can be a little trickier.
My initial thought use a Bitcoin WordPress plugin but these are pretty limited which lead to me building my own Bitcoin Payment WordPress Plugin, however until that is fully tested and ready for public consumption I registered with a company called BitPay for payment processing, the application took about a day to process before they got me set up.
Letting The World Know You Accept Bitcoins
Once you've decided to accept bitcoins and actually have the means to start trading then it's time to let the world know. The easiest way to get started is simply by adding an image to your site notifying people that you accept bitcoin. There is a great collection of royalty free images for this purpose on the Bitcoin Wiki and you may want to share a blog post letting people know.
However if you really want to utilise your acceptance of Bitcoin as a marketing asset you can also promote your services through the Bitcoin Wiki Trade listings. There is a small one time payment (currently 0.01 BTC) and you are good to go! Another option is to start networking and offering your services in the trade sections of popular bitcoin forums.
So is Bitcoin Ready for Business?
As I hope this article has shown, Bitcoin is ready for enthusiastic entrepreneurs and businesses to start utilising it as a currency but it is in its early stages. Anyone that gets on board now is definitely an early adopter, however this early adoption might also be the ticket to getting some extra free/low-cost promotion and if the trading price of bitcoin continues to rise, the money you accept for your products or services could rise in tandem.