A comprehensive guide on accepting crypto in your online store.
Traditional banking systems and fiat have been losing ground to alternative payment systems in the battle for global economic dominance over the last couple of years, and that is an undeniable fact.
Fortune Business Insight reports that the global online payment market was valued at $3,286.52 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $17,643.35 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 23.7% during the forecast period. At the same time, Statista reports that in 2019, digital and mobile wallets accounted for 41.8% of global e-commerce payment transactions and this share is set to increase to 52.2% in 2023, making digital wallets the most popular online payment method worldwide.
The combination of these factors is fueled by the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies and supporting DeFi services that are not only providing greater flexibility in terms of payment options, but are also giving users faster transactions and lower commissions on transfers. PayPal was one of the first giants to acknowledge the growing dominance of cryptocurrencies as proven by its integration of Bitcoin payments in 2020.
But while cryptocurrencies are enjoying heightened interest, merchants and companies are still seeking for reliable means of protecting themselves against the volatility of such assets and the fraud schemes they may be hiding.
Who Uses This, Anyway?
A new study from Cornerstone Advisors revealed that 15% of American adults now own some form of cryptocurrency. Apple Card holders only comprise 5% of all credit card customers, but among those that do have the card, 47% own some form of cryptocurrency, and two-thirds of them purchased crypto in 2020.
Millennials are the biggest audience of cryptocurrency users, as they have learned to value anonymity – a virtue that distinguishes digital assets. Crypto technology enthusiasts and tech-savvy users who understand the advantages of decentralization for transaction transparency and security are also prominent users. The same audience includes advanced specialists from IT and related fields, as well as those who trade cryptocurrencies and mine them.
But, more importantly, cryptocurrencies are being used by merchants and businesses that are eager to offer new payment opportunities and thus attract clients who prefer such payments.
Why Do It At All?
Having a broad selection of payment options is key for any business. Limiting gateways to fiat or bank cards is equivalent to cutting off a vast audience of users who would have bought that business’ services and products if they had been offered their preferred means of payment. It is a base question of client-orientation and freedom of choice. Given the growing popularity of digital assets, it is not only logical, but even imperative for a business to embrace clients who value such payments.
One of the reasons is because making crypto payments available automatically jettisons the accepting business into the headlines and creates buzz around it, organically channeling new clients. Increased publicity translates into a positive image of the merchant and higher sales. Shining examples are Coca-Cola, which launched vending machines that accept Bitcoin in 2020, as well as Starbucks and Nordstrom, which have experienced increases in sales ever since they announced their acceptance of cryptocurrencies as means of payment.
Another no less important reason is the lower fees for payments via digital assets. Visa and MasterCard charge from 1.5% per operation, while cryptocurrencies offer as little as 0.1% at times. In addition, driving mass adoption by being one of the first to jump on the wagon means becoming a forerunner with all the added benefits.
Piggybacking on the ideology of cryptocurrencies, like freedom from corporate and banking enslavement, independence from gateway giants and decentralization is also a way of contributing to the development of their vision and supporting mass adoption. The crypto audience will appreciate merchants who support their ideals and will likely resort to their products and services.
Finally, apart from reaching audiences who want to support new initiatives or are already accustomed to using crypto payments, merchants accepting crypto payments will also be able to take advantage of the options of generating additional revenues offered by such assets themselves.
Then How Do We Accept Them?
Accepting crypto payments is simpler than setting up a Visa or MasterCard payment terminal, as multiple companies on the market are offering solutions that are both convenient and effective.
All a merchant needs to do is set up a separate payment method on their website and connect it to the desired service. Then they need to connect a crypto wallet that will be accepting the funds, which must then be cashed out.
Which Cryptocurrencies To Accept Then?
The obvious choice is to accept popular coins like BTC and ETH, as well as coins with a higher degree of anonymity like Monero, a point in fact that a specific group of users will greatly appreciate.
Another suggestion is to connect acceptance of coins that offer low gas fees like Ripple and popular stablecoins like Tether or Dai, because their volatility is relatively low, but the advantages of anonymity and decentralization are provided. Riskier, but highly lucrative is the choice of connecting coins that seem promising to the merchant and may be used as portfolio additions.
But What About Volatility?
Cryptocurrencies are inherently volatile, therefore keeping the received cryptocurrencies on a wallet is not an option for merchants who value stability.
To hedge against volatility, most crypto payment providers offer the option of automatically converting crypto to fiat when accepting payments. Thus merchants will be able to fix their earnings in stable currencies and avoid the risks of cryptocurrency exchange rate hikes. Such options are offered by CoinPayments, as well as Bitpay, Opennode and others.
And though it is advisable for merchants to regularly convert crypto into fiat, the approach is more risky if the fiat in question is volatile itself and subject to shocks. As such, merchants are advised to keep at least a portion of their crypto earnings as portfolio assets.
Is It Legal?
Indeed, the question of legality is relevant, as not all countries allow merchants to accept payments in cryptocurrencies. However, the lack of clear market regulation allows entrepreneurs to connect cryptocurrency payment methods in most jurisdictions without any significant restrictions. Though this is more of a guideline than a recommendation, considering the constantly changing nature of legislation regarding cryptocurrencies in different countries.
Even if restrictions are in place in a certain jurisdiction, there are ways of circumventing them by accepting cryptocurrencies through third-party services that automatically convert the purchase amount into fiat and credit it to a bank account. This approach is by no means illegal and is offered by services like Coingate, Coinbase, Bitpay and others. Merchants, however, will still have to pay taxes, regardless of whether they receive payments to their bank accounts immediately after conversion, or after withdrawing from their digital wallet to a bank card. Merchants still have to conduct due diligence and check the laws of their countries of operation to avoid any fines or commissions in this regard.
Last but not least, collection of user data may be required to receive crypto payments, since anonymous transactions in some jurisdictions require the collection of personal data about customers, regardless of the method of payment. This means that when accepting cryptocurrencies, users need to be informed of the fact on the merchant’s website.
And What of Security?
There have been cases when exchanges and other crypto financial platforms were hacked and the money stolen by fraudsters. Given that security in the crypto industry is still an issue and risks are high, merchants are advised to keep their cryptocurrencies in cold wallets.
The standard rules of security also apply – users should never open dubious emails, and never believe blindly without double-checking information. For instance, one of the most popular methods used by scammers is sending phishing emails that alert users of missing cryptocurrencies and steal funds once the attached link is opened.
Cryptocurrency adoption is on the way and the global economy is contributing to the broader acceptance of such means of payment among broad audiences of users. Given the ease and convenience of the solutions available on the market with which merchants can start accepting crypto payments, the temptation to do so will lead to greater adoption of crypto payment gateways. The advantages offered by crypto payments are numerous for both buyers and sellers, hallmarking an entirely new era of online payments that is only just starting to enter its age of growth.