[heading]Small Business Owners Speak Up: What Will It Take For Them To Accept Bitcoin[/heading]
BitPay recently announced their 10,000th merchant. Some reports posit the Bitcoin payment processor is growing faster than Bitcoin itself.
According to the press release, “The merchants in BitPay’s directory are diverse internationally, with approximately 50% located in North America, 25% in Europe, and 25% in the rest of the world.”
What we got were varied answers. There was one somewhat common theme: vendors who simply hadn’t heard of processors like BitPay or CoinBase, which allow small businesses to convert their bitcoins to cash within a few business days. Many small business owners worried about their company’s cash-flow, first and foremost. Others worried about reputation, and the reputation Bitcoin brings.
Others had reasons beyond the exchange problem for not accepting bitcoin, like Carole Holden of Gelmtree advertising.
Carole believes Bitcoin is too impractical for her business.
“I can’t use Bitcoin to pay my utilities or contractors. Plus, there is too much risk and negativity associated with the product, and I don’t want that attached to my company,” she tells GSBTC. “Most recent news on the subject is unflattering, like the Japanese company [Mt. Gox] that just had over $5 million in assets seized.”
“It would take a complete image and functionality overhaul for me to gamble with it,” she says.
Chuck’s Furniture is a family owned furniture center that has served the Morgantown, WV area for over 40 years. James Prutilpac, a manager and 3rd Generation family member at the company, answered GSBTC’s questions.
James believes Bitcoin still leaves a few things to be desired.
“In order for Bitcoin to even be considered for our business I would need three things. It would have to be better established with a wide variety of businesses so the use would be fairly well-open. It would need to be more beneficial to us than using traditional forms of currency, such as lower rates, less risk, etc.
He also believes Bitcoin can’t compete with credit cards.
“In addition, it would need to prove viable in the long run. I suspect that if it became a large competitor to credit cards they would alter their practices to better compete. Being so well established would give them a huge advantage and I’m not so sure Bitcoin could survive it. I would need solid evidence that supported the benefits of Bitcoin if we would put time into adopting it”
Vince Samios owns a timber and construction business, SkirtingBoards. He is an avid bitcoin enthusiast, but has an interesting reason for not accepting Bitcoin:
“I don’t believe selling items for bitcoin is good for the bitcoin economy. Until I can keep that value ‘in the system’ so to speak,” he said. “There are services that immediately convert bitcoin to fiat currency, however these are encouraging a massive flow of value out of the bitcoin economy.”
There are, to be sure, plenty of small business owners who have yet to accept Bitcoin, but are more than willing.
Comedian Dan Nainan says he would take Bitcoin for his shows. Why?
“I’m a bit of a gambler, and since and I am 32, single, debt-free with a high income, I can afford to take risks,” Nainan told GoldSilverBitcoin. “For example, I’ve been paid in Euros, Pounds Sterling, South African Rand, Canadian Dollars, Hong Kong Dollars and Indian Rupees when performing in those countries, and instead of exchanging the money (and losing money on the exchange fees), I’ve kept all the international currencies, and most of them have increased against the dollar.”
Dan is already quite familiar with Bitcoin, as he performed at the Bitcoin Conference, introducing the Winklevoss twins.
“After I got paid in Bitcoin for performing at the conference, the price of Bitcoin plummeted, whereupon I bought some more, and now it has come back. So it was a great investment.”
In terms of the difference between being paid in dollars versus Bitcoin, Dan imparts:
“The difference in getting paid in dollars versus Bitcoin is that it is really, really complicated to set up a Bitcoin account.
I’m a former senior engineer with Intel, and I found it extremely difficult to comprehend how to even use Bitcoin. In order to gain wider acceptance, it’s going to have to become more user-friendly, not so user hostile. Sometimes computer geeks who are strangers to bathing and flossing like to make things exclusive and complicated to keep outsiders out, but that’s a fatal mistake if you want to have a widely accepted currency. Trying to invest in Bitcoin was so frustrating that I almost gave up. I’m glad I didn’t. But if it was so difficult for someone like myself, imagine how difficult it would be for the average man on the street.”
When Dan ponders using a Casascius coin, he thinks: “Why on earth would you call it some ungainly name like that? How the fuck you do you pronounce that? It sounds like Mohammed Ali’s real name. And Mt. Gox? These are ridiculous names that sci-fi nerds/Dungeons & Dragons geeks come up with, not forward-looking people who are thinking about marketing to the masses.”
Joel Selmeier gladly accepts Bitcoin at Peace-Pole, where he creates abstract pieces made of stainless steel, bronze, copper, limestone and steel for outdoor and indoor display.
Joel recognizes the benefits of being an early investor in an exciting new technology.
“There can be benefits to getting experienced with something like this while it is new. It helps with understanding it more thoroughly in the future when it, or something that replaces it, turns out to be able to play a steady long-term role for you.”
In his experiences, strange decisions like accepting bitcoins can improve a businesses profitability.
“Sometimes most of the business done in a year enables breaking even while the small percentage that comes through something like this is the profit,” Joel told GSBTC.
Joel doesn’t just accept Bitcoin, but he is himself a bitcoiner.
“I was advised to turn any Bitcoin transaction into cash as soon as it was completed, but my thought was to keep it in Bitcoins and use them for transactions myself,” he told GSBTC. “Also, there are the investment aspects of it. Some of the money I have in the stock market was put there when the Dow Jones was less than 10% of what it is now. That could happen with Bitcoins.”
While acknowledging bitcoins could go either up or down in price, “Anything that doesn’t rise and fall in sync with the other sectors is something I’d like a bit of in my portfolio,” Joel tells us.
Under “Payment Options” on his website, Joel says he will accept Bitcoin. So far no one has used them for his services.
Matt Inglot, founder of Tilted Pixel, Inc., won’t shy away from Bitcoin if a customer wishes to pay with them.
“Bitcoin sounds like a great idea. All Tilted Pixel would need to accept Bitcoin is a single web development customer that wants to pay by it,” he said. “But I think businesses will be slow to adopt Bitcoin as a method of *paying their own bills*, since that will inevitably make their bookkeeping harder. Recording exchange/gain loss on a BTC balance.. yikes.”
“It is great that CoinBase allows you to exchange for free. I think that is a big plus. I would be able to use bitcoins for processing big invoices for private events or monthly invoices for commercial accounts,” says Eric Coombs, founder of ENC Valet. “Bitpay for 1% is more than 75% cheaper than credit card processing fees. So that’s also a good option.”
“Most of my invoices are paid by check,” Coombs continues. “The plus to using bitcoin in my opinion would be instantaneous payment. I don’t have to wonder if they’ve sent me a deposit check, and I don’t have to drive to my POB to get my check. So that would save time and gas. I could get BTC , then exchange it and transfer to my bank account all from my pc. That would be pretty nice.”
The reasons for and against Bitcoin adoption are diverse. But, what we see here is a collection of business owners who are open to using the new technology, Bitcoin. They don’t necessarily have loyalty to credit cards or even the US dollar, as the comedian Dan Nainan demonstrates.
Some, to be sure, don’t wish to associate their business with the more nefarious activities of the Bitcoin economy. Perhaps, over time, as people begin to understand the technology more, the Silk Roads and the Mt. Goxs will become less of a turn off.
Others don’t understand the ease of BitPay. It might be that computer developers will start asking business owners, during negotiations for a site, if they would like to accept BTC.
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