First of all, congratulations on making it through 2022. Pat on the back for sticking with it through the very real ups and the challenging lows. Many of our San Francisco Bay Area clients went through the wringer … others had their best year yet.
From a personal standpoint, I think we’re all pretty glad to see it in the rearview.
Now, welcome to 2023. Anyone making bold predictions about what’s coming down the pike is setting themselves up for a fall … but I think we can safely say that economic challenges will continue to bombard us. And tech changes will keep knocking on the window of our business ops.
Especially when it comes to accepting payments.
Cash is king – especially in 2023. However, in an increasingly digital age, when customers can tap their phones to the credit card reader, you better be ready to make room for all the other different formats that can eventually turn into those pleasing pieces of green paper.
And now, digital payment options can include cryptocurrency. Certainly a volatile investment last year, and one that continues to face … challenges. But nonetheless, it is something not to be ignored. So today, I have some thoughts for you on accepting crypto as a form of payment.
But before I start, quick reminder that the deadline for 4th quarter estimated payments is coming up fast (Jan 16th). If you don’t have your ducks in a row, or you need some help finalizing things for that estimated payment, that’s something we can face together before the deadline.
Reach out here:
So, let’s talk accepting crypto… the what, the why, and the how to accommodate it in your San Francisco Bay Area business …
Accepting Crypto Payments in Your San Francisco Bay Area Business
“Cash for the soft goods, cash for the fancy goods/Cash for the noggins and the piggins and the firkins.” – Meredith Willson, The Music Man
First businesses took checks, then charge cards and credit cards (manually entered), then electronic payments, third-party payments, and tap-and-pays. What about your next big payment option that, despite headline ups and downs, seems here to stay? Cryptocurrency.
Is it time for your small business to start accepting crypto from customers? What’s involved – and, more importantly, what would you gain by accepting crypto now?
Should you or shouldn’t you?
Questions abound, but we do know that crypto is currency (age: about four decades) that exists only digitally, based on a technology that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority. Relying on a technology called blockchain, it uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage issuing of new money. Types of crypto include bitcoin and Ethereum.
Owners hold crypto in digital wallets that store the keys to decrypt currency and allow its use. To many, it’s the future of currency.
It’s also the stuff enormous headlines are made of. FTX, a crypto exchange, recently went from being worth tens of billions of dollars to bankrupt in a week. Luna, a crypto token, went from about a buck to around 116 dollars before it crashed – only another example of a young and unregulated currency universe that’s becoming famous for volatility.
How could anything this unstable have a future? Why would a smart owner open the doors of their business to this? No doubt your first move toward accepting crypto is answering these questions to your satisfaction.
All we can tell you now is that even in one of crypto’s most turbulent years, bitcoin still leveled off at a price offering big returns. Mastercard, AT&T, and Paypal are the latest household names to bet on crypto’s future – and the United States is one of the latest big governments to do so, calling for a process to recognize and regulate crypto in agencies from the Federal Reserve to the IRS.
Suppose you’re not a conglomerate or a huge government? In a recent survey, about a third of small-business owners and top-level execs said their business currently takes cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and Ethereum among the most commonly accepted.
Almost half of the owners and execs who don’t accept cryptocurrencies don’t plan to do so in the future – yet a quarter who don’t take cryptocurrencies would like to but don’t know how.
The good and the bad
Accepting crypto, at least initially, likely won’t change how your customers pay – your proportion of cash and plastic transactions will remain the same. Most shoppers who have crypto hold it as an asset, not as an actual currency; accepting it will probably be more a conversation starter with most customers at the beginning.
Over time, crypto customers will appear, though, and you will have added flexibility to your payment options (almost always a good move if you know the conditions and ramifications). Accepting crypto can become particularly effective if you sell large-ticket items and through a website.
- Generally lower transaction fees than with credit cards, at least so far;
- No chargebacks are possible with crypto (again, at least so far);
- Facilitates international sales – crypto is used in more than 50 nations.
But the big downside of accepting cryptocurrency isn’t hard to spot: instability. True, the U.S. dollar isn’t worth what it once was either due to inflation, but a whipsawing asset on your ledger can make bookkeeping much more complicated. Not to mention that there are multitudes of cryptocurrencies.
Customers may also voice environmental objections: Cryptocurrency takes a lot of electricity to create and sustain.
How to accept it
This is just an overview, but as happens in business more and more, back-office tech helps implement innovation – and accepting crypto is, once again “so far,” no exception. Many crypto payment processing systems integrate with point-of-sale (POS) systems, and an increasing number of POS systems themselves can run crypto transactions. You enter transaction details using barcode scanners and a touch screen and the system verifies the details and processes the transaction – not unlike modern transactions involving credit and debit cards.
Crypto-friendly systems also operate a lot like now-familiar accounting systems: Advantages include facilitating audits, issuing digital receipts, and easier storage of customer data. These vendors also keep on top of the various cryptos and their dollar value – so you don’t have to.
Popular POS systems and payment processors for crypto include Coinbase, Bitpay, Coingate, NOWPayments, and ALFACoins. To get an idea of the cost for accepting crypto, you can check fee pages for vendors – here’s the one for ALFACoins.
Is accepting crypto in your business an easy call? No. Is it even time to accept it? Maybe, and maybe not yet. Though sooner rather than later, customers might start asking for it.
Whenever you have questions about innovation in your small business, whether it’s right for you or the logistics involved and the impact on your business operations (and bottom line), don’t hesitate to reach out. Helping you is what we’re here for.
In your corner,
Patti ONeill and Gale Bergado