This is the second part of a series profiling businesses that use bitcoin.
As we called around for this project, one of the things that struck us was not that people were using bitcoin because of political agendas, but rather they are using it as a marketing tool. Accepting bitcoin means that when the keyword “bitcoin” is entered into a search engine, that business’s site is going to stand out above all the others. And although the bitcoin community may as yet be small, it is active, eager, and likely to support any business that accepts bitcoins.
As it happens, on the BitCoin Warrior Twitter account, tweets announcing non-investment or mining bitcoin businesses get retweeted automatically.
Many of the people we talked to displayed a disdain for people who were only interested in bitcoin because it is new, or trendy, or exciting. These folks have real-world concerns and are not looking to strike it rich. They are interested in bitcoin for what it can do, and what it can do for them, but they are not hardcore adherents. It is people like these that will ultimately propel bitcoin into mass use.
Among the people who know about bitcoin, there are two main types, those who are ardent believers, and those who believe it is a scam. Many of the latter see this as a fringe activity associated with Libertarians and Anarchists. There are a large number of people who are in the middle – not yet formed an opinion, or who know nothing really about it. Approaching these people with broad claims of how bitcoin is going to solve the world’s problems is going to strike them as sounding too good to be true. And they would be right.
Rather, it is seeing bitcoin offered in multiple stores, the popular and trendy ones, and even the local hardware store. This will get them interested in what bitcoin can offer them – and they will discover the advantages of bitcoin. The regular mom’s and dad’s need to find out that bitcoin is a way for them to use money electronically without the hassles of credit cards. They need to discover that bitcoin may be a better investment strategy than their 401K. They need to start asking their boss to pay them in bitcoin due to its deflationary nature. And for businesses, it will become a new way to get customers. It will become one more tool in their toolbox.
The more relevant bitcoin seems, the more it will get talked about, and the more it will be used.
Yes, I know. This is a rosy picture and there are multiple problems with it (confirmation times, taxes, etc.). But, like Johnny Appleseed, those who are spreading the use of bitcoin on a daily basis are planting the seedlings that will become the strong BTC economy of tomorrow.
This does lead me to a warning: if bitcoin becomes associated in people’s minds with radical political agendas, then it will have a much more difficult time making it into the mainstream.
And now, here are the words of some of the real heroes of the bitcoin economy. If you have a moment, please drop by their sites and let them know you support them.
Ashli Hara of Elven Forest (//www.etsy.com/shop/ElvenForest)
Well, I’ve been accepting it for maybe a month now. I just think bitcoin is pretty neat and also the way of the future, and wanted to be open to accepting it as soon as possible. It’s all very exciting to keep up with in the news and I love the idea of currency that I can keep in my own digital wallet.
Terry of Akita Wood Works (//www.etsy.com/shop/AkitaWoodWorks)
(I asked if he planned to use the bitcoin he earned by selling them for US dollars, holding onto them like an investment to see if the exchange rate goes up, or perhaps use them to buy from other stores that accept bitcoin.) I might do any or all of the above. It really depends on the day & the dollar amount. If it was a large enough sale I might cash some out, keep some in Bitcoin AND go shopping! I am more practical about business and not very given to mix in my political or ideological thinking with my bottom dollar. I see too many variables right now to get too excited about it, but I figure with the economic situation of the world bitcoin might stand a chance.
Emory Dunn of Emory Dunn Photography )
The way I have my store set up currently, through BitPay, is to convert 90% of a sale into USD so I can cover a basic needs such as rent, food, and buying supplies. The remaining 10% is kept in Bitcoin to both save or to spend them directly. For me this solution works well because it lets me cover my hard costs and make sure that price fluctuations don’t affect my ability to live and also keep some of the payment in bitcoin so I have a real vested interest in how it does. Besides, it’s in the back of everyone’s minds: if Bitcoin really takes off, the few I have in my wallet could be like winning the lottery.
Bitcoin is very much being touted by Libertarians. Just because Bitcoin can be anonymous doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the downfall of the government. Business conducted via bitcoin is going to be far more important for bitcoin than people who just want to subvert the government. Over the past few months there’s already been a change in the comments on people asking how their business can accept bitcoin and pay taxes. It used to be that half the comments were people saying that they should just skip paying taxes because the government is evil, and now it’s full of people suggesting places that will help set up an online store.
(I told Emory “I think one of the biggest hurdles with Bitcoin becoming more popular is the illegal implications surrounding it.)
It is indeed the biggest hurdle. Over time I think the reputation will improve, as people hear about it being used for legitimate business or use it to help charities. I’m waiting for the article that a charity that accepted Bitcoin early on now has the funds to feed an entire country for a year because the of rise in exchange rate.
At the moment if you can claim to be “The first _____ to accept Bitcoin,” then ideally you’ll be the only place to go and you can build up a good reputation. This is kind of where I sit right now: there aren’t a lot of artists (that I’ve seen) that accept Bitcoin so at the moment I show up somewhat readily in searches.
If you have used bitcoins in a brick-and-mortar establishment, or if you are a business that accepts bitcoins, please share your experience in the comments. We love to hear from you!
If you have a business and you would like BitCoin Warrior to profile you, please contact us!