You'd have to have been living under a rock for the last few years to not have realised that the world is fast becoming an increasingly more digital place.
It started with a boom in online shopping, then the iPod and Kindle transformed the way we listen to music and read books, and we bet you can't even remember the last time you developed a photo! So where do we go next?
Cash is now seen as a dying form of currency, and card use is becoming more modern with contactless options becoming more popular. It would make sense that if everything we're buying is now digital, that the way we pay for them is digital too.
Bitcoin is an online payment system that was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. It is regarded as the world's first Crypto-currency allowing users to digitally pay and spend not just online but in physical outlets too.
Businesses across the world of all sizes are offering Bitcoin as a payment option in order to cut costs and boost their bottom line.
Bitcoin can mean lower fees
Using Bitcoin can cost you significantly less than using Paypal or similar systems, the transaction fees for using Bitcoin are also generally lower than accepting credit or debit card payments.
Bitcoin transaction fees are typically zero to one percent per transaction, when you compare this to the two to five percent credit card fee it is very easy to see why businesses want to take advantage of using Bitcoin.
There are no chargebacks
Unlike credit cards Bitcoin payments are final, this means you won’t be hit with chargebacks or returns. Disputed credit card transactions can often take months to sort out and the funds are often locked up during this issue.
Businesses are also then hit with a chargeback fee which can be costly. You don’t have to worry about this with bitcoin, the power is entirely in the hands of the business.
It can help prevent fraud
Bitcoin users are able to pay businesses without giving away any of their personal information. They won’t need to include their name or address etc, offering better peace of mind.
This can’t be offered by credit cards which makes Bitcoin a more advantageous payment system.
You can accept international payments easily
Selling internationally can bring about expensive transaction fees. But now, thanks to Bitcoin going global is faster, easier and more importantly, cheaper than previous methods.
Accepting a Bitcoin payment from anywhere in the world is now as easy as receiving an email. For larger businesses who already sell abroad this simplifies and saves you money and for smaller businesses who are thinking about going international there is nothing stopping you.
You'll get paid quickly
By accepting Bitcoin payments your business can receive cash much quicker than other payment methods. Typically most Bitcoin payments arrive in your businesses account in only two working days. For small businesses getting cash if often critical for the survival of a business.
But Bitcoin also comes with a number of risks and disadvantages.
Prices can be volatile
The highest risk associated with using Bitcoin is its price volatility. The crypto currencies value can be unpredictable which is a worry for any business person. However, both large and small businesses no longer have to worry about this as long as they decide to use a merchant service company like BitPay.
> See also: Navigating the cryptocurrency minefield
When businesses use these services, bitcoin payments are processed in real time for the currencies current value.
You need tech know-how
To use Bitcoin payments you must be fairly technology savvy. We’re not saying you have to be a tech pro, but some technology know how will help you immensely if using this payment method. It’s not as simple as using traditional payment methods and you will have to use online services to help you take care and manage this digital currency.
Security is still an issue
As we mentioned earlier, Bicoin transactions help keep your customers/clients personal details safe, so there is no chance of stolen credit card numbers. But, like most things out there, Bitcoin still isn’t 100% safe. There is currently no way to completely stop online criminals from hacking into your Bitcoin wallet and stealing your funds.
It's not yet mainstream
At this moment in time, Bitcoin still hasn’t reached mainstream appeal. Many people are sceptical about trying new technologies especially when money and payments are concerned. Bitcoin still needs to breakthrough this barrier so the majority of your customers or clients feel comfortable making payments in this way.
It is advised that before entering any Bitcoin agreements and contracts you have a legal team to ensure that your best interests are protected. But once you have a good idea of the risks, get involved. Now is the perfect time as this is a growing industry and is one of the most exciting concepts to emerge from the internet in the last decade.