It has been over ten years since the launch of Bitcoin, which was an event that had forever changed the world of finance. The new form of money — digital money — quickly took off, and these days, people around the world are using it. Of course, it took time for cryptocurrencies to come out from the shadows, and even today, the number of people using it pales in comparison to the world’s total population.
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At first, cryptocurrencies were used by tech nerds, digital finance enthusiasts, and of course — hackers and other online criminals. As an anonymous way of making payments (actually only pseudonymous), it allowed people to make payments on the dark web and get away with it.
Things changed a few years ago when cryptocurrencies and the technology they are based on — blockchain — came into the light of day. Entrepreneurs and visionaries saw great potential in this technology, and they started working on making it better. Soon enough, the interest surged, and with it — the coins’ prices. That happened in 2017, when Bitcoin’s price grew more than a dozen times, hitting $20,000 within a single year.
Suddenly, everyone was paying attention, and especially regulators, who realized that the situation is serious and that cryptocurrencies are not going away. After a price drop in 2018, when the bearish market saw prices sink by over 80%, 2020 arrived, and the prices started growing all over again.
This time, however, people know what to expect and how Bitcoin and its altcoin colleagues might behave in the future. With knowledge came greater certainty, while the soaring prices once again started attracting investors, traders, and even merchants, such as yourself.
Even major companies like Facebook, Apple, Telegram, Microsoft, Amazon, and others are getting involved, in one way or another. Cryptocurrencies are still far away from mass adoption, but every day brings new victories in this area, however small. Also, however small, they are extremely important, and your decision to integrate Bitcoin payments into your store is well-founded.
What can Bitcoin do for you as a method of payment
We have already mentioned a few reasons why people like using Bitcoin, and as the awareness grows — it is likely that more and more people will start liking it, as well as using it. The use cases are growing, and many merchants — online and offline — have started implementing the coin into their stores. This is making Bitcoin useful and giving it real purpose in the world.
Further, the use of BTC and other cryptocurrencies is getting easier with time. Only a few years ago, the process was much more complicated than it is today. These days, there are apps and extensions that will do most of the work for you. The ease of use is also crucial for cryptocurrencies’ increasing popularity.
The point is, crypto as a trend is growing, and more people will start using it in years to come. That means more customers for your business, while the existing users will be thrilled that you accept Bitcoin in your store. That would encourage them to shop in your store, and to spread the word, thus bringing even more customers.
Indeed, accepting Bitcoin is an excellent decision that comes with a number of benefits of its own, but we will talk more about that later. For now, it is important that you realize that integrating BTC into your business is not only a good idea but also an easy thing to do. There are several ways for you to do it, which is what we will discuss today.
How to start accepting Bitcoin in your store
As mentioned, there are a few different methods that you can use, although you might notice that many are based on a similar principle. None of them is particularly difficult, but you might find some more beneficial than others. The decision is yours, but we recommend our first method as the best one, and that is:
1. Accepting Bitcoin with Shopify’s Coinbase Commerce support
If you are familiar with the crypto markets in the United States, you have probably heard of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. Coinbase is not the largest exchange in the world, but it comes pretty close. However, we are interested in it today because a year ago, it decided to launch an integration between its service Coinbase Commerce and Shopify.
Now, as a merchant, you likely heard of Shopify, and you probably even use it yourself. If you don’t — you should definitely consider it, as it allows you to handle payments with ease. Also, if you are only planning to open a store at this point, definitely consider it.
Back to the point: Coinbase and Shopify have worked together at allowing store owners to accept Bitcoin ever since the partnership was announced. This was a big deal for both parties, as well as for thousands, or even millions of crypto users that wish to pay for their goods with cryptocurrencies.
These days, you can use Shopify to add support for Coinbase Commerce and accept four different cryptos — Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC). These are all major, popular cryptocurrencies with millions of users around the world.
The move also opens up countless new possibilities for everyone, especially merchants, as Shopify already features numerous useful apps that businesses from all corners of the world employ.
Accepting Bitcoin will also reflect greatly on transaction fees, as many have started reporting as soon as the feature was enabled. And, in addition to all of this, setting everything up will likely only take a few minutes, tops.
All you need to do is apply for a Coinbase account at the Coinbase Commerce website, and you will soon begin receiving payouts from the exchange. After you receive your account, go to your Shopify admin, proceed to Settings, and then to Payment Providers. Next, find the Alternative Payments section and click on the Select Additional Payment Method. Choose Coinbase Commerce, enter your Coinbase Commerce Email and API Key, save the changes, and you’re done.
It is that simple, and you can now accept cryptocurrency payments from anyone willing to pay with one of the supported coins.
In addition, we should mention that Shopify features Shopify POS apps for Android and iOS alike, which are perfect for selling your products to buyers in person. You can use its basic features to sell anything, anywhere. Shopify POS will sync with the service, track your orders and inventory, and more.
2. Set up your personal wallet
Your next option is almost just as simple, and it includes setting up a personal Bitcoin wallet. This is a good solution if you expect to have a small number of Bitcoin users. All you need to do is set up your Bitcoin wallet.
To put it simply, a wallet is no more than a string of random numbers and letters. You can choose among standalone wallets or exchange-owned wallets. If you choose an exchange wallet, the exchange will take care of all of its different needs. There are also different kinds of wallets, such as hot (online) wallets, or cold wallets (without internet access).
Cold wallets are typically considered more secure, as they are impossible to break into from a distance. Online wallets, on the other hand, are only as secure as your login credentials. With strong credentials, you will certainly be able to keep your funds safe, and you can always use the cold wallet for keeping the majority of your Bitcoin, and a hot wallet for small amounts.
If you choose to go the easy way and employ an exchange-owned wallet, all you need to do is register with one of them, and you will receive your wallet’s address. This is known as the public key, and it is a string of numbers and letters that you will provide your customers with. You can even generate a QR code which they can scan with their apps during the purchase, and easily send you the payment directly.
Wallets also feature a private key which is necessary for signing transactions. This is NOT something that you should share with anyone. Anyone who has your private key can steal your funds, so tread lightly with that information. It is meant to be for your eyes only.
You will also need a credit card or a bank account in order to withdraw your money in traditional currencies, such as USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, and alike.
As for the exchanges that offer wallets that you can use, there are plenty of them, including Coinbase, Kraken, Bitfinex, Coinmama, CEX.io, and more.
We also mentioned standalone wallets that you can use also, and those include services like Eidoo, BTC.com, StrongCoin, Blockchain.com, CoinsBank, and others.
3. Use screen apps
With Bitcoin payments getting more and more popular, software developers quickly started designing touchscreen apps that work similarly to wallet transactions. Basically, all you need to do is set up a wallet as we spoke about earlier, pick an app (CoinFLy, CoinGate, Blockchain Merchant, BitPay, Coinbox) and connect it with the wallet. After that, simply put the required amount of money in fiat currency for any product, and the app will generate a QR code for your customers to scan.
It is a simple solution and a quick one. It can be used on most tablets and smartphones, so it is perfect for any kind of goods you may have for sale.
4. Hardware terminals (POS)
Earlier, we briefly mentioned the option to use Shopify POS (Point-of-Sale) solution. However, it is also noteworthy that Shopify is not your only option. In fact, as Bitcoin’s recognition grows, many providers started creating their own versions.
They can come in different forms, such as a Bitcoin-oriented API which you can integrate into other POS terminals, or even in the form of an individual, Bitcoin-specific payment terminal. It depends on the provider, so it might be a good idea to do your own research and choose a specific one yourself. To get you started, here are some providers that you might want to consider:
- BitPay (streamlined into SoftTouch POS system)
- Coinkite (Bitcoin payment terminal, not unlike chip-and-PIN terminals)
- BitXatm (a crypto ATM that also has POS)
- Revel (offers multiple POS solutions for different businesses)
- XBTerminal (another Bitcoin-specific POS device)
Once again, it will be easy for you and for your customers to simply generate and scan QR codes for different items you have for sale. It is the quickest way to do it and to get the money sent to you directly.
5. Gift cards
It might sound strange at first, but cryptocurrencies and gift cards actually get along pretty well. In fact, they are used as a medium of exchange quite often, in relation to Bitcoin. Of course, not all stores accept Bitcoin as of yet, especially not major ones that still consider digital currencies too risky and unregulated to start working with them. That is why your decision to go against the prejudices is so important.
But, for those who won’t accept BTC directly, they still allow you to buy gift cards with Bitcoin. If you plan to start selling gift cards and/or certificates, this might be the easiest way to do so and still get involved with crypto. Simply let people buy gift cards or sell them on designated BTC-accepting platforms. They can then be used for purchasing services or goods from your own business.
Some of the services that you might want to look into in regards to this solution include Gyft, GiftOff, eGifter, Yes to Bitcoins, and Paxful.
Pros of accepting Bitcoin in your store
Obviously, people are not only using Bitcoin and other cryptos just because they are there. Instead, using digital currencies comes with a fair bit of advantages that anyone — individuals or businesses — can benefit from.
Perhaps the best way to explain why adding Bitcoin is a better choice than only accepting credit card payments would be to compare the two.
First of all, there is the ability to avoid fraud. When it comes to Bitcoin, all transactions are final, and there is no going back. All you need to do is wait for confirmation that the transaction is complete, and that is the end of it. With credit cards, you have no such luxury. Payments are often delayed, and sometimes, the card gets rejected, or canceled before the payment was processed. The payment itself can be canceled with a single phone call. This is what scammers do to get goods from stores without actually paying for them.
Next, accepting credit or debit cards often puts you in a position where you must set up a card purchase minimum due to the fees. The fees can go from 2-5%, and if the price of the purchased product is too low, the amount you ‘earned’ will not be enough to handle even the fees themselves, much less to cover the cost of the product.
With Bitcoin, you can choose whether or not you wish to pay a fee, and how large it will be. Paying a fee, and making it larger, will make your transaction get processed better. But, it’s not like not doing so will leave it in some sort of digital limbo forever. It will get processed anyway at some point if you are willing to wait.
Another benefit of accepting Bitcoin is the fact that you will attract new and returning customers. As mentioned, there are still not that many services that accept Bitcoin, online or offline. Sure, they may be hundreds or even thousands of them in the world on a global scale, but try buying something with Bitcoin in your neighborhood and see how far you will get.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin users are everywhere, eager to find businesses that would accept their coins, and that is certainly something that you can use to your advantage.
Finally, there is the matter of Bitcoin’s price. BTC is still extremely volatile, and it the last six months alone, its price went from $3,200 to $13,600. That is a $10k increase PER COIN. In other words, if you had a single Bitcoin in January, you would have had $10,000 more by June. After that, the price dropped back down to $10,500, which is where we find it today.
Previously, in late 2017, each BTC was worth $20,000 per coin. Only a month later, however, it was half that price. A few months after that, it dropped to $6,300. Its price got cut in half once more in November. However, 2018 was a very bad year for cryptocurrencies, and something like that was neither expected nor predicted by the majority of those involved with the crypto space. Simply put, the potential to massively increase your earnings is there, although the opposite is also true, so you should keep a close eye on the market and price movements. Due to it being a double-edged sword, this last one can be considered a pro or a con.
Cons of accepting Bitcoin in your store
Obviously, the price issue is a big con when the prices start to drop. You may end up losing hundreds, or even thousands in a span of a few hours.
Apart from that, another con is the lack of regulations, depending on the country you live in. If you are in France, for example, you are in luck, as the country is just about ready to regulate the crypto sector. Japan and Korea already did it, although they are still perfecting their laws. In the US, however, the regulators don’t do much in terms of bringing laws. Most of the time, they are just delaying the decision and making comments on how cryptos are unreliable.
While true, not doing anything is definitely not helping, and running a crypto business in the US might end up being a problem if the regulators suddenly choose to ban cryptos. In your situation, however, you would have to stop accepting the coin. As for other legal issues, it is uncertain what they might include at this time.
Finally, there is the matter of taxes. The US government is not making moves to bring a regulatory framework, but it sure was quick to introduce crypto taxes, which can be bothersome to calculate. Luckily, there are special apps and calculators out there which you can use, and which will make the process easier.