Business Payment Options: The Pros and Cons of Bitcoin
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still growing in popularity and are becoming increasingly mainstream as a form of payment. If your business doesn't currently accept bitcoin, you may be wondering if it's time to get on board. While there are benefits to using bitcoin versus other types of payment, there are also some downsides.
Consider some of the key pros and cons of bitcoin before accepting it as payment to decide what's right for you.
Pros of accepting bitcoin
There's a reason bitcoin is booming in popularity right now. Consider these benefits before you decide to accept bitcoin at your business.
A large and growing market
In a 2019 survey from The Harris Poll, 9% of respondents said they owned bitcoin. Ownership rates were even higher among Americans ages 18 to 34, with 18% reporting ownership.
Since this survey, the price of bitcoin has soared to new heights. Given these trends, there's a good chance even more Americans are ready to use bitcoin. By adding this form of payment, you'll give customers more options when they shop at your business.
Fast transactions with no chargeback risk
According to Exodus, a cryptocurrency wallet company, it takes about 10 minutes to an hour to complete a bitcoin transaction. That's much faster than payments by credit card or check, where it can take a few days for money to arrive in your account.
Another benefit is that once you receive the coins, they're in your possession and there's no chargeback risk. With credit cards, there's always the chance that after you ship a product, a customer might fraudulently reject the transaction. You might lose both your goods and the money. With bitcoin, you can confirm payment before making delivery and the customer can't take back their coins.
Competitive transaction fees
When you accept bitcoin payments, you can select the transaction fee. You could even choose to pay nothing, though this will slow down how quickly you receive the coins. Even if you pay a transaction fee, it's still significantly less than what you'd pay for receiving payments through credit cards and payment processors like PayPal.
Cons of accepting bitcoin
Make sure you understand the risks and downsides before deciding to accept bitcoin.
Takes work to set up
Before accepting bitcoin, you'll need to set up some basic infrastructure. Select a wallet to accept payment, connect your e-commerce site to a cryptocurrency exchange and possibly work with a third-party service that processes cryptocurrency payments for businesses before you get started. Whichever route you take, you'll need to spend time getting this launched to go with your other methods of electronic payment.
The price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies changes frequently and rapidly. It's not uncommon for the USD value of bitcoin to change by 10% or more over the course of a week—or even overnight.
When you use bitcoin for sales, you're taking on some extra risk. The value of the coins you bring in today might drop tomorrow when you need to pay suppliers. Of course, there's also the chance that your coins will be worth more, too. If you use bitcoin, be sure to take the value fluctuation into account while calculating your projected cash flow.
Risk of theft
A key feature of cryptocurrency is that transactions are anonymous. While this extra privacy can be nice, it also increases the risk of fraud. If a cybercriminal breaks into your cryptocurrency wallet and takes your bitcoins, it's almost impossible to get them back.
That's why you need to be cautious and work with a secure processor experienced with preventing cyberattacks. You should also take steps to protect your money, such as transferring cryptocurrency into cash quickly versus keeping a large balance in your wallet.
Is bitcoin right for your business?
If you're in a tech-savvy and primarily online market where many of your customers use cryptocurrency, offering bitcoin payments could make sense. Not only does this make it easier for your clients to buy from you versus competitors, but it also could get you some good publicity. For example, Elon Musk and Tesla made national headlines when they moved $1.5 billion of cash into bitcoin, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
On the other hand, if your industry is more traditional and your customers aren't savvy to cryptocurrency, it might not be worthwhile. Even if you think there would be some advantages to using bitcoin, it depends on your comfort level and market. Make sure you're comfortable with the bitcoin benefits and risks before launching.
As you consider the pros and cons of bitcoin, it could be a good time to speak with your business banker to see how they think bitcoin could merge with your other payment methods.
Financial insights for your business
This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.