I wrote this blog post back in March 2014, and for one reason or another it never got published. So I’m publishing it here.
Cryptocurrency & the point of sale
As a business owner, it’s important for you to take into account your customers’ preference for payments. Offering a credit card option, as opposed to being cash-only, expands your customer base and your opportunity to sell your wares. What if, however, you offered more than just the cash or credit option? What if, by offering alternative currencies such as Bitcoin, you could cater to a wider customer base and draw foot traffic through sheer novelty of payment type? Alternative currencies like Bitcoin are known as a cryptocurrencies, because they use cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money.
While not every merchant may want to leap on the alternative payment bandwagon, it’s worth considering what’s out there. By offering an alternative to cash or credit, you may open your restaurant up to new possibilities, a new demographic, and increased revenue. It will also expose your brand to a new audience, and subsequently increase your customer base.
Not sure which alternative currencies to offer? Here are three cryptocurrencies to get you started:
Bitcoin: Perhaps the most well-known of alternative currencies, Bitcoin allows for encrypted, peer-to-peer payments. Although it could indeed be considered an alternative currency (especially when compared to cash or credit), Bitcoin is increasingly becoming mainstream. As noted in Ars Technica, Bitcoin is “viewed as a legitimate method of payment, and a legitimate asset, by the people who matter in these issues–CNBC has it as a ticker on its website…and there’s a Bitcoin hedge fund in Malta.” As Bitcoin gains traction as a legitimate currency, consider offering it as an accepted form of payment at your restaurant. You may find that customers will jump at the chance to use this trendy currency at your restaurant.
Dogecoin: Like Bitcoin, Dogecoin is an “open source peer-to peer cryptocurrency.” Dogecoin is also the first cryptocurrency to be based on an internet meme. First popularized on 4chan and Reddit, the Doge meme blew up in October 2013 and Dogecoin was introduced shortly thereafter, in December 2013. Doge memes aside, this cryptocurrency differs from Bitcoin in that there are more available (100 billion dogecoins versus 21 million bitcoins) and can be mined more quickly than bitcoins, which makes transactions faster, an “obvious benefit” to merchants. Dogecoin also has a popular appeal, gaining traction in the news recently for contributing $30,000 to help the Jamaican bobsled team go to the Olympics, and, according to Mashable, is the “most traded virtual currency.” For customers inclined toward alternative currencies but wary of Bitcoin’s negative association with Silk Road, consider accepting dogecoin at your restaurant. The subsequent result will be to draw technophiles and meme-lovers alike into your business.
Coinye: Released on January 7th of this year, Coinye (formerly Coinye West), is a new cryptocurrency inspired by professional rapper Kanye West. Coinye is also based on Bitcoin, and was designed as “a more user-friendly version of Bitcoin” with the widely-recognized face of the famous rapper. The cryptocurrency did not gain support from Kanye West, however, and he in fact has responded to it with a cease and desist letter. The creators of Coinye responded in turn by changing the logo to a “half-man-half-fish hybrid,” a reference to a South Park episode making fun of the rapper. Although Coinye did not gain the support of Kanye (as well as, perhaps, the subsequent popularity such support would ensure), it’s still interesting to note the movement towards ease of use and accessibility for cryptocurrencies. The use of a widely-recognized rapper for the coin could indeed mark its move into the masses, drawing users who would not ordinarily use cryptocurrency. Accepting Coinye at your restaurant will not only show that you’re hip to the latest trends in alternative currencies, but that you cater to the pop culture crowd as well.
While accepting cryptocurrency at your restaurant will be certain to draw attention from customers and media alike, how do you go about making this option available to your patrons? Instead of purchasing a POS system that can specifically accept one type of cryptocurrency or another, consider using a point-of-sale solution that does it all. An iPad POS, like Revel Systems, allows you to accept whatever form of alternative currency you wish while maintaining functionality for more traditional forms of payment, such as cash or credit. So whether you’re accepting bitcoin, dogecoin, or coinye (or whatever else emerges in this ever-changing field), your restaurant can cater to the technophile and traditional patron alike.