You may have seen the success that enterprises like Overstock and Expedia have had with their bitcoin initiatives. Many enterprising businesspeople, from Fortune 500 companies to budding entrepreneurs, are wondering how they can make bitcoin work for them, who can help, and in what ways they can benefit.
If you think that bitcoin is beyond the scope of your business, think again.
Why support bitcoin now?
Momentum... think back to the beginning of 2014 when hardly any major companies accepted bitcoin. Fast forward to now, when big brands like Intuit, Shopify, Digital River, Stripe, Dish networks, Expedia, Overstock, and Holiday Inn are all accepting bitcoin. With more major brands jumping onboard every week, bitcoin won’t be fringe for long.
“We wouldn’t be jumping into something that we didn’t think had legs. Bitcoin seems like a very viable currency.” -Michael Gulmann, VP of Global Product for
These are the top 5 reason's to accept bitcoin at your business right now:
1. Integrating Bitcoin Is Easy
You may have had reservations due to a preconceived notion of difficulty in accepting bitcoin. As it turns out, incorporating bitcoin is relatively easy. Bitcoin, created in 2009, is natively digital; this gives it a few advantages:
- Bitcoin is designed for internet culture and digital commerce
- It has the advantage of being structured to function independent of financial institutions.
What's more, unlike integrating with a traditional banking system, bitcoin integrations are fast. Setting up takes less than 5 minutes.
A basic example could look like this:
- Go to Blockchain.info
- Create a bitcoin wallet
- Generate a QR code
- Share or place it on anything
- Accept money to your bitcoin wallet
Advancing in complexity, a small business that mails invoices can use Coinbase to accept bitcoin for invoiced payments. Just as in the previous example, it takes less than 5 minutes to create a Coinbase account capable of receiving bitcoin payments and issuing email invoices.
You may be thinking, “Okay, but what about full-scale retail or ecommerce integrations? How long does that take?” Consider that it took Overstock.com one week to integrate bitcoin into their U.S. site. Overstock has over 1,000,000 products and over $1 billion in revenue per year. One week… that’s it. Think about how much faster your catalog will be to index!
2. Bitcoin will save you money
In addition to being simple to integrate, bitcoin it is also much cheaper to operate than other banking institutions. Aside from the up-front savings, there are ongoing savings to be had by accepting bitcoin payments.
- There are no credit card numbers to store or safeguard.
- Bitcoin payments are free to receive.
- Converting bitcoin to U.S. dollars is less costly than credit card payments. BitPay charges NO transaction fee for conversions on their monthly plans.
- Fraudulent bitcoin payments are impossible. No more lost revenue due to unidentified fraud or rejected cards.
- Eliminates rejected payment support for those customers using bitcoin.
3. Generate Media Interest
Accepting bitcoin is a newsworthy event (for now). While the opportunity for national headlines are mostly gone, save for the largest companies, the simple act of accepting the currency will get local journalists interested in how, why, and the pros and cons.
Making a splash
You need only take a few steps to prepare for your bitcoin media launch.
First, ask yourself or your IT department: Are we already using a platform like Intuit, Shopify, Stripe, or Digital River that enables us to accept bitcoin? If not, how much will it cost and how long will it take to integrate bitcoin payments with Coinbase or BitPay?
Once you have ensured that you are ready to accept bitcoin, coordinate with your sales, marketing, and PR teams to maximize the rollout of your bitcoin launch. This sounds complicated but it really boils down to generating some small bits of content to promote and explain the new features and how it affects / can benefit customers. Your pitch to current customers can be that you wish to assert your brand as a thought leader, cutting edge and innovative.
Public relations teams should consult their lists of media contacts to identify reporters who will be interested in covering why, how, the benefits, and the challenges of your bitcoin integration. From there it's your typical marketing routine.
Even though just muttering the word "bitcoin" will no longer garner national headlines, there is still an opportunity for widespread, viral headlines by accomplishing a “first” with bitcoin.
- The first company to hold bitcoin it receives (and not cash out)
- The first company to pay employees’ bonuses in bitcoins
- The first company to offer employee salaries in bitcoin
As the possibilities of bitcoin become more readily apparent, some businesses will do all of the above and discover new revenue opportunities in the process.
The Chicago Sun Times made headlines recently by being the first print newspaper to sell directly to consumers through print ads utilizing a QR code. Newspaper readers could actually purchase Jay Z and Beyonce tickets directly through a newspaper ad with bitcoin.
Get creative with your application of bitcoin in your business. Whether it's bitcoin billing, payroll, or rewards, there are endless opportunities to generate significant buzz for your business through the currency.
4. Increase Market Share
Accepting bitcoin opens your company to new customers. Bitcoin holders have a vested financial interest in supporting bitcoin-friendly businesses and many are ardent marketers of such establishments.
In January Overstock announced they were accepting bitcoin. Two months later they announced that 58% of bitcoin orders were new customers, net profitability of bitcoin orders was higher, and bitcoin order sizes were 34% greater.
Where are these new users coming from? It's unlikely that all of those users had never shopped online retail before which leads to a likely scenario: Overstock is taking market share from competitors, in part by accepting bitcoin.
How to rally support
After accepting payments and a public rollout, as described in the Public Relations section above, the next key step in securing market share is to reach out to the bitcoin community itself.
Engage them on their turf. Use Reddit (100K+ readers), Coindesk, and Bitcointalk. Be careful to make the right first impression as the community is comprised of internet / tech-savvy individuals and do not respond well to those who seem tech-incompetent. Just say, “I’m new here and wanted to tell you our company is doing X, Y, and Z things with bitcoin.” If you don’t come off as a salesman, but rather as a bringer of goodwill and common interests, the community will embrace you like a long lost family member.
5. Safer Payments
Bitcoin is the safest way to accept payments. Much like cash, all payments are final, plus there is no risk of chargebacks or disputes. Additionally, bitcoin payments are free to receive and cannot be counterfeit. For those businesses that don’t want to hold what they consider “volatile” currency, it costs 1% or less to convert to U.S. Dollars by using a company like BitPay or Coinbase.
What this means for your business is that you can allow global access to your product without fear. Some payment processors and banks simply don’t allow access to payments from some countries and some merchants don’t accept business from others due to excessive fraud. Bitcoin eliminates these worries and once your business receives the payment, it is legitimized and officially yours.
Your Next Steps?
Set up a bitcoin wallet and consider offering billing via bitcoin. Remember that this unique window of opportunity to gain a PR boost and grab market share from competitors won’t last forever; every day companies are announcing their acceptance of bitcoin. You have everything to gain from spending a short while to learn more about bitcoin and asking your executive team: how can bitcoin benefit our business?
Learn more about bitcoin with these other great articles:
- The Essential Guide to Bitcoin
- What 5 Successful Business Say About Bitcoin
- Pros and Cons of Bitcoin
- How Bitcoin Can Fuel Your Business Growth
- Top 5 Apps for Bitcoin
- Bitcoin: How to Keep Your Payments Safer
Let the community know about your bitcoin experience in the comment section below!
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