Akif Khan, VP in solution strategy at Bitnet, offers retailers five top tips for accepting online payments in Bitcoin
Adding bitcoin as a payment option to your website or mobile app could be a smart move in 2015 – taking a payment in bitcoin is typically cheaper than accepting a card payment, there is no chargeback risk, and you’ll be making it easy for anyone in the world to pay you as easily as a customer in the UK can. Furthermore, all the cool kids use bitcoin, so you’ll be making your brand look innovative and differentiating yourself from your competition.
Here are the key things to consider before you take the bitcoin plunge in 2015:
Partner with a bitcoin payment processor
Whilst you could manage the whole process yourself, it’s an overhead you don’t really need. Think about processing card payments – do you manage that entirely in-house, or do you use the services of a payment gateway? Almost certainly the latter. Same applies with bitcoin. A good bitcoin payment processor will manage the complexity of connecting to bitcoin currency exchanges and will work out for you how much to charge the consumer in bitcoin when they get to the checkout on your website.
You don’t need to hold any bitcoin
You’ve probably heard that the bitcoin price can sometimes be volatile. That makes merchants nervous – no one wants to be paid in a currency that might be worth less tomorrow than it is today. By instructing your bitcoin payment processor to take the payment from the consumer in bitcoin but then convert the funds into traditional fiat currency (think pounds or euros) before settling with you, that risk is mitigated. That will make your finances teams happier, which will make your life easier.
Fight the internal misconceptions
Many of your colleagues will no doubt have heard of bitcoin but won’t have a clear understanding of how it works and how it can benefit your business. Some will undoubtedly point out that they’ve read articles about bitcoin being used by criminals. After you’ve pointed out that criminals also use cash and also abuse credit cards, both of which are payment types you probably accept today, you should ensure that your internal teams are educated. Find a bitcoin payment processing partner who is happy to educate as well as just provide a service – getting everyone on board internally is key to the success of any project, after all.
It’s not magic, it’s just a payment type
Once you cut through all the hyperbole, adding bitcoin to your website is simply adding another payment type. Ensure you’re working with a bitcoin payment processor who understands this – lots of people are enthusiastic about bitcoin, but not everyone is knowledgeable about payments. You need more than just a bitcoin button on your payment page – you need to ensure the bitcoin payment process works in the context of your customer experience, that it fits in with your shipping and fulfilment paradigm, that you have clear and accurate settlement reporting, and that you get insight into customer behaviour when people choose to pay with bitcoin. Ask about all this and more when selecting your partner.
If you’re going to go to the effort of adding bitcoin as a new payment type to your website or mobile app, then make sure you get noticed for it. Work with your marketing teams so that they’re aware of what you’re doing, and ensure they understand bitcoin (see previous tip on internal education). Some retailers have shown that around 60% of consumers paying with bitcoin are first-time visitors, so you want to make sure you attract those people who have bitcoin and are looking for places to spend it. And if you act quick enough, that place to spend it will be with you, and not with your competitors.