Despite its volatility, the Bitcoin craze is alive and well, and proof of the cryptocurrency’s popularity is the growing number of businesses that have either adopted it as a form of payment or are currently laying the groundwork to do so. Major publications like Business Insider are even encouraging more businesses to follow suit, outlining various reasons to this end.
But should small businesses adopt Bitcoin as a form of payment, too?
Down the road, yes. But as of now, the answer is no. This line of thinking certainly goes against the grain, but there are legitimate reasons for small businesses not to accept Bitcoin payments—at least not yet. Here are some of these reasons:
Bitcoin remains extremely volatile, with its value rising significantly one week and then falling precipitously the next week. This volatility is the number 1 reason why adopting Bitcoin payments is risky for a small business, which may not have the financial capability and flexibility to deal with such fluctuations.
Ever since the Bitcoin boom of last year, governments around the world have placed legal restrictions on cryptocurrencies, causing Bitcoin to experience “a cold winter,” according to LDJ Capital founder and chairman David Drake. Small businesses are often not built to weather the negative fallout from such uncertainties, which means it makes perfect sense to not dive in headfirst into the unreliable world of Bitcoin.
B2B Feasibility is Unclear
Business to business (B2B) purchases achieved via Bitcoin payments are becoming quite popular as they are actually more cost-efficient and easier to finalize. But Bitcoin B2B transactions aren’t feasible just yet for small businesses since finding other businesses that accept Bitcoin as payment can prove to be a challenge. According to a Coindesk report, this is due to the limited number of companies actually transacting cryptocurrencies.
Where’s the Money?
The lifeblood of small businesses is actual, physical cash, which is used for employee salaries, additional capital, and other business-related expenditures. Accepting Bitcoin as payment will be counterintuitive since it may take a while to convert Bitcoin to real-world money. If this happens, cash flow will be disrupted, which may eventually lead to the business lacking the necessary funds to sustain its operations. Large businesses have the infrastructure and monetary flexibility to offset being cash strapped for a time, but small business do not have this luxury.
There are accompanying costs to introducing any new payment mechanism, and small businesses might not be ready just yet to cover those same costs. Technical knowledge, for instance, is crucial to adopting Bitcoin as payment, and getting the necessary training may require additional expenses.
Again, as mentioned earlier, small business should, in the future, consider accepting Bitcoin as payment for goods or services purchased. Bitcoin as FXCM notes is based on blockchain technology, which affords users a “fast, secure and economical means of making purchases or transferring funds.” Further, the initial purpose of blockchain, after all, is for use as a monetary system, and chances are Bitcoin will eventually gain acceptance from both consumers and retailers. This will therefore pave the way for the mainstream adoption of digital money as a preferred mode of exchange. In fact, McDonalds, Walmart, and Amazon are all but set to accept Bitcoin payments, joining big corporations like Expedia, Microsoft, and Subway in the list of well-known businesses doing the same. Here on The Q Note we reported that the hospitality industry is now accepting Bitcoin payments. The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino and the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel are two such establishments, with the D able to receive virtual currency in its gift shop and restaurants.
In time, adopting this same high-tech payment method will be the norm, and by that time, even small businesses will be able to benefit fully from the advantage that blockchain and Bitcoin provide. For now, though, it is best for a small business to stick with physical money and refrain from completely overhauling their operations.