When you are running an eCommerce business, or even an offline business with an eCommerce component, there is one golden rule you are told time and again. Make it easy for customers to buy your product. Now that is something that can lead you down a rabbit hole in terms of UX, web design, mobile optimisation and all the rest. However, if you take it at its most literal, it means offering customers as wide a choice of payment methods as you can.
Bitcoin skirting the mainstream
It would be an exaggeration to say that Bitcoin is anything close to a mainstream online payment method at the moment. It is certainly attracting plenty of attention from a trading and investment perspective.
Having said that, though, companies including Microsoft, Expedia and Barnes & Noble accept Bitcoin, while Amazon and even KFC in some regions are considering adding it as a payment option. Should you be joining them on the bandwagon? As is the case with most business quandaries, there are pros and cons.
Pros of accepting Bitcoin
From a seller’s perspective, the biggest advantage of Bitcoin is security. It’s extremely unlikely that you will be defrauded when someone pays by Bitcoin. It’s certainly far safer than a credit card payment, where fraudsters can make their purchase, receive the product or service and then hit you with a chargeback or payment reversal.
That sort of thing is part of life with card payments, and it’s something every seller in the world faces from time to time. But with Bitcoin, the payment is one-way and irreversible. In that respect, it’s as safe and definite as cash.
Another significant advantage concerns fees. With credit cards, these can be crippling, especially when it comes to a certain card that might “do nicely” for buyers but is a different story for vendors. With Bitcoin, you can go with no fee at all, although if you choose to pay a small transaction fee, it makes things faster.
Cons of accepting Bitcoin
On the face of it, Bitcoin sounds like it is heaven-sent for small eCommerce businesses. But there are potential downsides. The most obvious relates to price volatility. This is what has kept Bitcoin from becoming a popular payment mechanism in the wider sense, and while volatility has reduced over the past year, it has not gone away.
That volatility is what makes it such a compelling choice for traders, but it adds a layer of uncertainty that most businesses can do without. Of course, if the price goes the right way, accepting Bitcoin could be a masterstroke, but you would not want to have all your takings in digital assets.
Bitcoin is here to stay
One way around the volatility concern is to convert your BTC into local currency immediately after the transaction, or at least to only keep a small float in your Bitcoin wallet. Ultimately, whether you accept crypto depends as much on your customers as your business. One thing is for sure, crypto is going nowhere, and if there is demand, it is better to start meeting it sooner than later.