A year ago everyone in tech was non-stop talking about this “new” thing they called Bitcoin. It was an emerging currency or something. Then as fast is it came, it seemed to have had setbacks to make it a flash-in-the pan. Yet Bitcoin is alive and well today and if you’re a freelancer or business owner, you might want to start paying attention to it.
Blockchain. Ledger. Miner. These all sound like codewords for some top secret mission to Mars or something. Really though, they’re the essential pieces that allow the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to run. Let’s cover some Bitcoin 101 to get you up to speed.
In the simplest of terms, Bitcoin is money in the form of a computer code; also known as digital currency.
- A blockchain is the digital record, or ledger, of the payment exchange. All Bitcoin units and the owners of them are securely tracked on this ledger.
- A miner is someone who manages and protects the units going through the Bitcoin network.
- A Bitcoin comes in the form of a confirmation code. Once issued, it cannot be refunded or returned and is completely unique to that one-time transaction.
Whether you fully understand the technology behind Bitcoin or not, it doesn’t matter. What the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are doing for the world of business (and consumers, as well) is the most important piece here. Bitcoin is unregulated which means you now have the ability to privately manage the exchange of monies for your services rather than having to wait for a bank or another financial institution to approve and process payments.
There’s also a lot of talk these days of Bitcoin 2.0 which focuses more on the technology behind cryptocurrencies. Developers can learn a lot from Bitcoin and further use it to improve not only the monetary system itself, but to create new systems completely unrelated to the currency. Since bitcoins are securely encrypted and have a unique identification and tracking system, this entire process of digital transfer could translate into the exchange of other items that require secure transmission (real estate agreements, binding business contracts, etc.) The possibilities are there, waiting to be unlocked, so it’ll be interesting to see where developers take this.
A Good Disruption
Invented seven years ago, Bitcoin has seen its share of ups and downs, but the benefits to today’s business owners are undeniable. If companies like Microsoft, Overstock, Expedia, and Subway are accepting it, then it’s a viable payment method worth considering.
Some are calling Bitcoin a “disruptive” system, but if these are the results of investing in this disruption, the choice is clear.
- Easy Transmission: Do you have customers from out of state? How about outside the country? Bitcoins are sent just as easy as email since they don’t have any physical presence and don’t reside in a bank, so there’s no need to deal in exchanging or converting currencies or waiting for payments to process. It’s instantaneous money for your business. Just make sure to regularly sweep the money from your Bitcoin wallet into your bank account to ensure its safety.
- Affordable Fee Structure: The technology behind Bitcoin allows transactions to be processed quite efficiently, leading to a lot of savings in those nasty overhead fees you would otherwise deal with when accepting credit cards. If you don’t want to deal with fees at all, there is that option as well though the fees due guarantee you get paid quicker.
- No Chargebacks: Chargeback fraud, also known as “friendly” fraud (though what’s so friendly about it?), is an annoyance you have to deal with when accepting credit card payments. If you’re wanting to skip that hurdle, Bitcoin is the solution since the payment cannot be cancelled or reversed once processed.
- Transparent Tracking: Whether you’re looking to track sales numbers more efficiently and accurately or the head of your corporation is looking for more transparency into what is happening in the day-to-day of your operation, Bitcoin has a very clear and easy-to-use system for tracking payments.
- Increased Attractiveness: For techies and others looking to get on board with the emerging Bitcoin revolution, your business could end up in their sights just for accepting Bitcoin as payment. Advertising in-store or online will give you extra clout when someone doesn’t have cash on hand or is looking for a quick and easy way to pay for their transaction.
- Quick Setup: If you conduct your services online, the time it takes to set up a payment API and link up your bank account is probably a few hours. And when selling your goods in person, it’s a matter of getting set up with a QR code so people can use their digital devices or your kiosks to transfer their payment to your wallet. Not much time at all when you consider the long-lasting benefits.
For business owners—especially those with small businesses—Bitcoin is a win. While the stability of it and the exact future of the technology is not a definite known just yet, it is a reliable form of currency. Consider opening your business up to Bitcoin and discover the new possibilities that await.