Even though some of us consider 2014 a pretty successful year for Bitcoin because of the increased merchant adoption and global awareness, there is still a lot of work to be done. A lot of big media focus is on the Bitcoin price, which is a matter near and dear to all of us. However, the main issue with Bitcoin still remains, ever after all these years : the concept is too technical for most people to comprehend properly, and that issue needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
That job is far easier said than done though. A step in the right direction has been taken by BitPay, as their commercials are now airing on some TV channels, increasing the Bitcoin awareness more and more. And while these commercials are both funny and easy to comprehend in their own right for experienced Bitcoin users, as soon as you mention “accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment”, things get complicated once again.
Granted, accepting Bitcoin payments in a brick and mortar store has become increasingly easy to accomplish, thanks to point-of-sale terminals, which are similar to credit card terminals. Furthermore, most merchants can easily convert the full Bitcoin transaction to fiat currency and get the money deposited into their bank account. Those are the positive sides of accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, whether you are an offline or online retailer.
On the other hand, point-of-sale terminals mean people have to learn a new system, have to learn new “lingo”, and foremost, they have to get used to the currency and the hardware itself. If you only have four customers a month paying in Bitcoin, you have to weigh off the gain versus the time invested and the potential costs. Is it really worth going through all that trouble, just to accept Bitcoin? For most retailers, that answer is still no.
And that is where we come to the main issue. The focus should not just be on retailers in 2015, as we have some of the biggest brands accepting Bitcoin already. The focus should be on educating about the use of Bitcoin, and why it’s important as a consumer to get interested in this digital currency. We have the places to spend Bitcoin set up, but we are lacking a solid amount of people willing to go out of their way to buy goods with bitcoin.
Don’t get me wrong, no one will want to use Bitcoin for paying goods if there are no merchants accepting Bitcoin. And from the growth we have seen in 2014, plenty of merchants, both big brands and local shops, have taken the plunge and are now accepting Bitcoin, both in an online and offline fashion. That is really great, and it happened a lot faster than most of us anticipated at the beginning of 2014.
However, if consumers do not see the benefit of using Bitcoin in a store, the bitcoin ecosystem will stall sooner or later, which is exactly the opposite of what we want. Sure, there are plenty of people among us who use Bitcoin as a payment method for whatever they can, and they will keep the purchases flowing on the network. But we need more people to start spending their Bitcoin for goods and/or services in 2015 if we really want to start making an impact.
The way I see things, it is relatively simple. When customers are educated about Bitcoin, and the advantages it can offer them, as consumers, retailers will have to think about accepting cryptocurrency payments, either online or in-store. Of course, there are no guarantees they actually will, but it creates an interesting paradigm. Retailers follow their customers’ preferences, sometimes it takes longer than we would like, but it will happen over time.
However, if you as a business decide to accept Bitcoin as a payment method without there being much of a demand for it by your customers, the situation is entirely different. Just because customers can pay in Bitcoin doesn’t mean they ever will, if they have no idea what Bitcoin is or why it will benefit them. Retailers will have a hard time convincing uneducated customers on why they should learn about Bitcoin and start using it as a payment method.
What are your thoughts in regards to Bitcoin’s marketing strategy for 2015? Do you have any bright ideas or suggestions? Leave a comment below!