Business people who are not yet familiar with Bitcoin often have extremely varied perceptions of the popular “cryptocurrency.” Some people are tempted in by stories of incredible profits, and others have been scared off by stories of market crash that have, rightfully, reached mainstream news. The fact of the matter, though, is that more and more privacy-concerned internet shoppers are using Bitcoin as both their primary form of payment online and as a supplementary payment option. With more adherents than ever to the world’s first decentralized currency, there has never been a better time to begin accepting Bitcoin in your online store. Integrating Bitcoin has become much easier, as well, and can prove to bring you increased sales. On top of increased sales, the value of Bitcoin can prove to increase your profits on those sales made with bitcoins.
How Bitcoin Functions
Central to the function of Bitcoin is the “blockchain,” which is a distributed database stored universally on a network made up of all Bitcoin users. The blockchain records all interactions between all users in the network, which is updated to all distributed copies of the blockchain. This means that the only “authority” over Bitcoin is the network itself. Value is determined by the market for the coin, much like the value of stocks but with less government oversight.
Bitcoin is unique in that its security as a currency is self-contained within the blockchain. There is a limited number of Bitcoins and they are locked up within the blockchain such that it encourages “mining.” Mining in regards to Bitcoin refers to using the processing power of a computer or computers to repeatedly check for new transactions published to the network and to verify them.
Blocks are generated approximately every ten minutes and contain all of the transactions done across the network. Blocks are heavily encrypted and contain signature information from the previous block in the chain. Mining involves performing extensively recorded mathematics in decrypting the blocks and verifying that they match the previous block. In this way, the blockchain is nearly impossible to compromise while encouraging further support into the network.
Bitcoin is peer-to-peer by design, however, it is possible for banks and exchanges to operate businesses on top of the Bitcoin market. While there have been a few missteps in the early years of Bitcoin, like an exchange that crashed due to bad management, losing many exchange customers’ money, newer exchanges have been increasingly backed my larger corporate entities. What this means for businesses that are, understandably, risk-averse when it comes to currency is that you no longer need to be an expert on Bitcoin’s technical side in order to safely use Bitcoin.
What Are the Benefits of Integrating, and How Can It Be Done?
The most obvious benefit of integrating Bitcoin is being open to new customers. The core user-base of the cryptocurrency is passionate and invested in supporting stores that accept their currency; the more backers of the currency, the greater its value. August of this year Bitcoin hit the highest value it has ever reached (4,780 USD per coin,) and it has been on a steady rise for years.
This fact brings us to the second reason to integrate the digital currency: coins themselves can greatly increase in value. Many early adopters of Bitcoin became millionaires simply because they bought in when the coins were valued very low. While this is no longer a reasonable expectation for the future, stores who accepted coins at the very beginning of this year have now almost quadrupled their income on those coins due to the increase in value.
However, even if you do not wish to risk your income on a market that is subject to some fluctuation, because of the rise of modern banks and exchanges, you can accept Bitcoin with little to no risk whatsoever. Additionally, reliable exchanges will manage your Bitcoin wallet for you, meaning you don’t have to deal with the peer-to-peer setup yourself.
Many businesses are partnering with Coinbase, a fully insured, industry-endorsed Bitcoin bank and exchange. Coinbase offers tools for businesses hoping to add Bitcoin as a payment method and allows for the nearly instantaneous exchange of Bitcoins earned from transactions to USD or local currency. Additionally, all USD currency is stored in an FDIC insured account, so it has the security of any other bank.
Coinbase has been revolutionary in allowing eCommerce companies of all sizes to begin accepting Bitcoin in a much safer manner. Companies that have partnered with or backed Coinbase include Expedia, Time Inc., and Dell. With the additional security Coinbase has brought, even companies who are not particularly invested in cryptography or privacy on a philosophical level have increased reason to adopt Bitcoin as a payment method.
Of course, our team here at www.nixa.ca are here to help you integrate digital currency into your eCommerce storefront. If you no longer want to miss out on the customers and the value that Bitcoin can bring to you, contact us right away!