Should You Accept Bitcoin Payments?

Bitcoin has gotten a lot of attention lately, but there’s a lot the public doesn’t know or understand about this online currency. The obvious question for businesses becomes, “Should I accept Bitcoin for online transactions?”

It’s a complicated question that businesses can only answer for themselves, but it’s definitely worth considering if your website does a lot of online monetary transactions.

What is Bitcoin?

The documentarist Morgan Spurlock did an excellent episode on Bitcoin for his show “Inside Man,” available on Netflix. Bitcoin is an online currency. It has no regulatory organization, so it can’t be manipulated by banks and governments like traditional money. It is supposedly not subject to outside factors.

Bitcoin can be purchased online, and some stores and marketplaces accept it. The transactions are instant and without fees, unlike many bank transactions. The value of Bitcoin changes regularly, possibly day to day, almost like stocks. It gives customers an additional way to purchase goods and services while avoiding the banking process.

The Challenges

Because Bitcoin does not have a regulatory entity, it is shrouded in mystery, making it seem unstable. The price of Bitcoin has swung recently as well. It used to be above $600 per Bitcoin, but is now closer to $400, so you lost money if you owned a lot of Bitcoins before the drop. According to a major story in 2014, a Bitcoin distributor lost more than $470 million because of fraud, adding unpredictability and instability to the marketplace.

Is it For You?

If you do a lot of online commerce, especially overseas, Bitcoin may benefit you if you’re comfortable with the risk. As with most new technologies, it may be best to take a wait-and-see approach or enter the market tepidly at first to see how it plays out. Using or not using Bitcoin will not make or break your business, but it’s an emerging business trend to pay attention to.

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