One of the issues holding bitcoin back from more adoption is the lack of stores and businesses that accept the cryptocurrency as payment. This is a chicken-and-egg problem. If more businesses had the ability to accept bitcoin, it might encourage consumers to start buying and spending it, and vice versa.
With this in mind, here we explain how to accept bitcoin in a physical store.
The simplest way to accept bitcoin payments in stores is in-person, by getting your client to send the correct amount of bitcoin (BTC) to your digital wallet. This is similar to thinking of it as a cash-in-hand payment.
Many smartphone apps, such as the Bitcoin Wallet app by Andreas Schildbach, on Android can do that. There are also options available on the Windows Phone app store for users of that OS.
Some months ago, Apple removed all bitcoin wallet apps from its App Store. However, on 2nd June, the firm rescinded this policy, once again paving the way for wallet apps on iOS devices. These are already starting to appear, with Blockchain, Coinbase and others apps now available. We can expect more to arrive in the future.
Another alternative is CoinBox which is for merchants who want a straightforward option to receive payments. In these case, the merchant enters the price of an item or service into the phone, which then presents a QR code containing the amount to be paid and the address the funds are sent to. The client scans the QR code with bitcoin wallet app and the payment is sent.
All of these simple systems work for small businesses and stores testing to accept bitcoin or for those doing odd-jobs for small amounts. Businesses which are larger in scale will likely look into a dedicated solution that fits in with their existing POS systems.
Merchant bitcoin point-of-sale (POS) solutions
There is also a growing number of commerce-specific options that plan to streamline the process of taking bitcoin payments. The following services provide a variety of POS solutions for merchants, both online and off.
Coinify, a Danish firm that acquired BIPS and Coinzone, offers POS solutions for both brick-and-mortar and online stores. Merchants can get paid in bitcoin or fiat currency – or a mixture of the two – and its mobile app, Coinify POS, works with both Android and iOS devices.
For online sellers, Coinify offers different integration tools, like payment buttons, shopping cart plugins or hosted invoicing.
CoinKite is a new startup that provides a bitcoin payment terminal looking exactly like the over-the-counter chip-and-PIN terminals we are so used to using in stores. This handset reads a bitcoin-based debit card, also orovided by CoinKite. The handsets can also serve as a bitcoin and litecoin ATM, as well as offer the option to print QR codes for clients to scan with their smartphone apps.
Coinbase is another payment processor that offers a point of sale app (Android) for bricks-and-mortar retailers. While it now only supports US bank accounts as a funding source, it provides extensive e-commerce support. Not only does it offer an HTML code segment for easily inserting payment buttons into your website, it also provides plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce, Megento, and ZenCart.
BitPay is an international payments processor suitable for businesses and charities. It is integrated into the SoftTouch POS system for bricks-and-mortar retail stores. However, BitPay has an API which could be implemented into any other POS system with some coding work. BitPay has different tariffs that merchants can subscribe to, allowing features like using the service on a custom domain (for online stores), exporting transactions to QuickBooks, etc.
Revel Systems offers a range of POS solutions for quick-service restaurants, self-service kiosks, grocery stores and retail outlets, among other merchants. POS packages start at $3,000 plus a monthly fee for an iPad, cash drawer and scanner. It was recently said that Revel will also include bitcoin as a method of payment in its POS software.
Germany-based startup BitXatm has announced the arrival of its Sumo Pro – a crypto ATM with a POS (point of sale) function that will appeal to merchants seeking to simply accept payments from customers in cryptocurrencies.
Costing €2,900 (around $3,993), the stand-alone machine offers a generous 17-inch touchscreen and has the ability to accept any fiat currency. Moreover, it can accept or dispense any digital currency, according to the company’s website.
California-based online payment processor PayStand provides US-based websites and mobile applications another method to accept payments such e-checks, credit cards and bitcoin. Paystand have received $1m in investment as part of its initial seed-funding round.
Launched in 2009, PayStand plans to be a multi-payment gateway that eliminates merchant transaction fees, in part by supporting digital currency acceptance.
Coin of Sale
A new bitcoin POS system, Coin of Sale, aims to make it easier for merchants to accept bitcoin payments for their goods and services.
Created by Singapore-based expat Thomas Forgac, Coin of Sale works with both Android and iOS devices. When users sign up for an account, they are automatically set up with an Electrum wallet.
The merchant must enter the amount of money that needs to be charged and the app will automatically generate a QR code for it. The client then scans this QR code to complete the payment.
XBTerminal provides a bitcoin POS device that enables the merchant’s clients to pay from any mobile bitcoin wallet by NFC or QR code. Payment from offline mobile devices is supported by bluetooth. Payments take place through the company’s platform and, if desired, bitcoin can be converted instantly to fiat currency at the time of sale.
The platform also provides web apps and an online interface for its payments solution for those that want to invest in third-party hardware.
With bitcoin, it is possible to forego the fees of using a payment processor or provider, and easily integrate payments into your own custom system. Those with a technical background have achieved this, including Stephen Early, who integrated bitcoin payments into the POS system of his UK pubs single-handedly.