Despite the value of the cryptocurrency markets, and the number of people who own crypto in one form or another, it’s still hard to use these currencies directly at retail point-of-sale. Retailers, uninterested in acting as crypto traders, have demonstrated little interest in creating initiatives or tech that would allow them to accept the currency. Big financial institutions have also been slow to offer support for cryptocurrency transactions and exchanges.
For consumers, this meant there’s been no real way to pay with crypto at most stores. For retailers, there was no easy way to offer point-of-sale (POS) cryptocurrency payment — unless you wanted to hold on to the currency yourself.
Now, there are signs that this is starting to change.
New initiatives from major financial institutions — like one from Mastercard, which provides branded bitcoin payment cards to company partners — may soon make it easy for businesses to accept crypto. A number of crypto startups, like Binance in Ireland, are on track to make paying with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies easy by allowing cryptocurrency holders instantly convert bitcoin to fiat currency at point-of-sale.
Soon, crypto adoption for point-of-sale systems may become the norm — and it could have a big impact on both retailers and the crypto markets.
Expanding Payment Options May Normalize Cryptocurrency Use
Point of sale solutions have a powerful normalizing effect when widely adopted. If you see a payment option or currency accepted everywhere, you may naturally become more likely to consider using that option when shopping.
The growth and expansion of available payment options means that both retailers and customers are increasingly used to adopting new payment solutions. Many retailers are beginning to accept payments from services like Square, PayPal and Apple Pay that allow customers to quickly complete a transaction using their smartphone. The acceleration of the shift to cashless payments in the wake of COVID has also encouraged retailers and customers to familiarize themselves with alternative payment options.
POS crypto solutions would likely help to normalize the currency to both retailers and consumers who may still think of cryptocurrency as highly complex and hard-to-understand or use. If widely adopted, they may even help accelerate the trend towards a mostly cashless society.
There may, however, be some challenges ahead for retailers who want to accept crypto. Right now, ecommerce is king. Most retailers have some kind of online storefront, and consistency across channels is extremely important for success in the current market. If retailers want to accept crypto at POS in their brick-and-mortar stores, they’ll also need to find a way to offer those services online — or risk frustrating customers who were planning to pay with crypto.
Point-of-Sale Crypto Adoption Helps Enable Payments in Unstable Markets
The availability of POS crypto solutions could also help retailers continue to serve customers in countries experiencing financial crises — like runaway inflation — that make it difficult or uneconomical to continue accepting the local currency.
We’ve already seen this play out at least once. In Venezuela, for example, as inflation soared to more than 10,000,000%, merchants in the country rapidly adopted POS bitcoin solutions in order to stay afloat. In 2018, over 2,400 merchants in the country accepted Dash, an open source cryptocurrency.
This is a bit of a specific advantage, but could be exceptionally valuable during crises where the local currency isn’t worth accepting.
Growing Use of Point-of-Sale Crypto May Significantly Impact Retail
Major hurdles have prevented retailers from POS crypto adoption in the past. New initiatives from major financial institutions and smaller startups are beginning to change this. It’s possible that within a few years, major retailers will start accepting crypto in one way or another at point of sale. The implications for both crypto and retail may be significant. For consumers, availability of crypto options may help familiarize them with the currency. For retailers, crypto may help accelerate the current trends towards cashless, contactless payment.
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