Are you thinking crypto for your business?

I’m sure over your holiday family dinners this year, there was some talk of cryptocurrency. Just like Facebook, the internet itself and even CD-Roms in the past, it’s become the hot topic that everyone has an opinion about, but no one quite understands.

How was it for you? Was it all blockchain tech over the turkey? Stellar with your stuffing? Bitcoin with the brandy butter?

Crypto goes Mainsteam

For all the bluster, the truth is that cryptocurrency has reached mainstream acceptance. The hype is turning into reality. There is a real opportunity here. The cryptocurrency market is expanding and growing at an extraordinary pace every year. The boom will continue throughout 2018 and beyond.

Be An Early Adopter

There are a lot of similarities between the way some see crypto and blockchain businesses now, and the way the internet was viewed in the mid ‘90s. Remember the people who said customers would never buy clothes online or even enter their credit card details on a website to pay for products? Those critics were proved wrong.

So this time, enjoy the first mover advantage. Early adoption will give business benefits for those customers looking to spend directly in their crypto.

Reach out

Don’t forget, there’s a whole new market out there for those who want to embrace it. Cryptocurrency can tap into over two million people in the world that don’t currently hold fiat bank accounts. That would be quite an addition to your customer base.

Feel the benefits

When a customer goes to a department store and spends on their credit card, there is typically a 1% - 3% transaction fee. Current cryptocurrency fees amount to less than £0.25 per transaction therefore making a crypto transaction considerably cheaper than making an equivalent credit card purchase.

Instant rewards

Another benefit here is that payment through crypto is almost instantaneous compared with payment through legacy card systems. But don’t be fooled, there are still inherent risks of dealing with these currencies and their fluctuating value and accounting costs.

Naturally legacy banks, cards and in-store terminals will update to accept many currencies and digital wallets. But the question remains are the businesses ready for the customers to pay for their goods with crypto?

Will retailers remember the good times?

In the end, it all depends how much retailers are prepared to support these nascent currencies as they start to find their feet.

You may have noticed in the last few days, Bitcoin and other cryptos have crashed (although the technical term for this is “a market correction”). This has resulted in value losses of over $36bn, albeit Bitcoin is still 1000% up year-on-year.

So, in theory, today is a day to sell. But businesses could also react to the decrease in currency by reducing their prices, thus helping to stabilise the market.

This kind of support, of course, is more than offset by the promise of the good times. These same retailers were all benefiting in the pre-Christmas period when Bitcoin’s value was increasing day by day.

But will retailers benefit in other ways from the technology surrounding crypto?

Ending counterfeiting and building trust

Blockchain technologies underpin every cryptocurrency. And it’s not just the currencies that they run. Blockchain isn’t incremental, once adopted it will revolutionary.

Blockchain technologies have limitless, scalable opportunities that for example; could truly eventually eradicate counterfeit goods by cryptographically-signing assets issued by the official retailer or resellers.

Think of the impact on second hand auction based businesses like eBay or Vestiaire Collective. At last, you’d know for certain if those shoes were really hand made in Italy or that salmon was actually caught in that picturesque Scottish loch.

This type of information could and will be readily available within blockchain ‘digital ledgers’ creating greater customer trust between sellers and consumers – or losing it forever.

Innovative spin-offs

The cryptocurrency and blockchain industry is creating new spin off ventures that promise to bring crypto to a wider audience, such as ACE Card. ACE Card is a rewards platform that bridges government backed fiat currency (ie GBP, USD, EUR) and cryptocurrency - letting users earn residual ACE cryptocurrency based on their card spend. Think Frequent Flyer Miles or AMEX Rewards, but for crypto.

Even the world of mergers and acquisition is to get a revamp with Lexit (nothing to do with Brexit), as well as Polymath pairing securities.

Marketers and retailers will need to appreciate these and other innovations as they begin to understand their customers buying triggers in their embrace of cryptocurrency.

The Future is Now

It’s still early days in this new industry, but its pioneers are already making great strides and seeing great successes. Now is certainly the time to be thinking crypto and how it will impact your business.

Now is the time to plan for a financial future that will be shaped, increasingly, by digital currencies.

Chris Bishop is an Entrepreneur and Business Consultant – he can be found on Twitter @cpbishop or on Linkedin.

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