Tales From the Crypto

By: Raj Tulshan, Founder of Loan Mantra

StillFire Brewing is the first brewery in Georgia to accept cryptocurrency and customers are invited to use Bitcoin as payment for beers and other beverages, as well as, their merchandise, which includes t-shirts, caps, gift cards, and more. The small business decided to accept crypto so customers could use a fast, secure payment method, and the brewery owners appreciate crypto’s benefits, including no third-party involvement or bank fees. StillFire uses CoinBase, a Bitcoin payment processor, to handle the payments. CoinBase offers fast, next day deposits and a low fee – just 1% of transactions, as opposed to 2-4% typically charged by credit card companies. Notably, the brewery has joined more than 30% of U.S. small businesses that now accept cryptocurrency, as this payment method becomes more mainstream and popular.

  Threes Brewing, with locations in Brooklyn and Long Island, is also accepting cryptocurrency. The pandemic forced them to adjust their business model, which included updating their website and offering beer delivery direct to consumers. People were excited to buy the brews online and asked the brewery owners to start accepting PayPal. The owners decided to go one step further, offering a cryptocurrency option, as well, which was easy to integrate with their Shopify. Like StillFire, Threes Brewing uses CoinBase as their payment processor.

  Cryptocurrency is a digital medium of exchange that relies on peer-to-peer blockchain technology. It’s decentralized, meaning no central bank or government regulates or backs crypto. Buyers transfer funds directly to sellers without the third parties traditionally used to process payments. And people store their crypto through an encrypted wallet and are the only ones with a key to unlock it.

  Part of the appeal of crypto stems from the surge in credit card fraud that was accelerated by the pandemic. In 2020, the dollar volume of attempted fraudulent transactions rose 35% in April 2020 vs. April 2019, and, sadly, small businesses are often the targets. In contrast, crypto is considered to be a secure form of payment, with merchant protection, lower transaction fees, and other benefits.

  Increasingly, small businesses are accepting cryptocurrency. It’s innovative and trendy, attracts customers and prospects who use crypto, offers more e-commerce opportunities for beer retailers, and can reduce fraud.  And companies like Shopify and Square make it easy to accept crypto. Square even has a crypto team to support development. But is crypto right for your business?

When determining whether to go crypto, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros:

•    It offers lower transaction fees than credit cards. As StillFire and Threes discovered, there’s a lower transaction fee when using crypto vs. credit cards. While each credit card transaction costs a company 2-4% of the total transaction, crypto reduces these costs to less than 1% of each transaction. Over time, these seemingly small fees can amount to a substantial savings.

•    It provides another loan option for businesses. Small businesses often need to take out loans, especially during these disruptive post-pandemic times. Some business owners – especially those with large amounts of cryptocurrency – are opting for a crypto loan, where you pledge an asset (in this case, your cryptocurrency) to secure financing. Crypto loans often come with a host of benefits, including low interest rates, same-day funding, and no credit check.

•    You’ll get your money faster. Tired of waiting several working days for a bank transfer to clear? Crypto is much faster and can be processed almost immediately. Small businesses that need and want their money faster will appreciate this perk.

•    It’s more secure than credit cards. Crypto-

      currency is considered more secure than credit and debit card payments since crypto doesn’t need third-party verification, as these other payment types do. When someone pays with cryptocurrency, their data isn’t stored in a centralized hub, where breaches commonly occur. Instead, their information is stored in their own secure crypto wallet – and they’re the only one with the key to unlock it.

•    Crypto offers some merchant protection. Crypto, with its decentralized set up, protects merchants from fraudulent chargebacks. Transactions are final because no third party can reverse charges, as is the case with credit card purchases. As crypto regulation continues to evolve, there may be more merchant protections introduced in the future, especially as crypto becomes more mainstream and accepted by more small businesses.

•    It opens up more e-commerce opportunities. As Threes discovered, customers want a fast, easy, secure way to shop online. Now, they are selling to people in more than 30 states, accepting crypto as well as PayPal to give their customers purchasing options. Threes was able to expand their audience, moving beyond their New York customer base to sell beer and merch on a bigger, more national, scale.

•    It’s another option for customers. Accepting cryptocurrency offers customers additional ways to pay and provides them with extra protection and security for their transactions.

While cryptocurrency offers a variety of benefits, there are also some risks associated with it, and small businesses should be aware.

Cons:

•    Customers might not be ready for it. Since this type of currency is still relatively new, many people still don’t understand or trust it. Crypto might not be appealing to tech-averse or risk-adverse customers. Using crypto also requires some effort, as customers would need to set up their own digital wallet and learn how to buy with this type of currency.

•    There may be technical barriers for business owners. While Shopify and Square make it easy to add a crypto purchasing option, if a small business doesn’t use those platforms, it might be a bit trickier. Businesses need to set up a digital wallet on a digital currency exchange to accept crypto, which some people find difficult, especially if they aren’t particularly tech-savvy. Also, since cryptocurrency is an ever-evolving, information-dense space with a steep learning curve, it can be an overwhelming option for some business owners. It is volatile and unpredictable.

•    Digital currency is volatile and unpredictable, so if you’re a risk-adverse business owner, this might be too much drama for you. Keep in mind that Bitcoin was first valued in pennies in 2009 but rose to more than $65,000 per coin in February 2021. That’s obviously a huge range! Using a merchant service company, like BitPay or Coinbase, helps protect small businesses against price volatility by immediately exchanging digital currency for its current cash value. Be sure to do your homework, carefully researching cryptocurrency to decide if it’s right for your business (and your personality type!).

•    It’s not completely safe from cybersecurity threats. Crypto reduces the risks associated with credit card fraud, but it’s not completely safe from cybersecurity threats or breaches. There’s no proven way to completely prevent cybercriminals from accessing users’ crypto wallets, and crypto isn’t backed or insured.  Some cryptocurrency companies are working to reduce the risks of security breaches by fully insuring losses, but insurance doesn’t currently cover personal accounts, so you’re still responsible for securing your personal wallet. But if a crypto company like Coinbase is breached, your funds would be protected.

•    There’s uncertainty around crypto regulations. The regulations around cryptocurrency will likely continue to change and evolve over time, which means business owners will have to follow – and adapt to – these changing rules. Since cryptocurrencies are relatively new, the government is still looking at regulations and rules about things like reporting gains and paying proper taxes on crypto transactions.

•    It doesn’t cover basic business expenses. Businesses typically can’t use crypto to cover operating expenses, such as rent and payroll, so they’d need to convert payments to cover these monthly costs.

  Some breweries have adopted cryptocurrency and are proud to be early adopters of this technology.  Others are sticking to the tried-and-true cash and credit payment options. There are pros and cons to crypto, so give it some thought before deciding whether to accept this form of payment. Also, consider your personality and whether you’re willing to learn about crypto – and accept that it’s volatile – before finalizing your decision.

About the Author

  Neeraj (Raj) Tulshan is the founder and managing member of Loan Mantra, a financial advisory firm with best-in-class and proprietary fintech, BLUE (“Borrower Lender Underwriting Environment”). Loan Mantra, Powered by BLUE, is next-level finance: a one-stop-shop for business borrowers to secure traditional, SBA or MCA financing from trusted lenders in a secure, collaborative, and transparent platform. Clients turn to Raj because they know he will always pick up the phone and offer unparalleled financial counsel in a remarkably human—even friendly—way.

About Loan Mantra

  Loan Mantra is a financial services company designed to serve small and medium businesses with offices in New Jersey, Charleston, SC and New York. At Loan Mantra your success is our success.  This means that our attention, purpose, and intention are all focused on you, our client.  We are your ally to overcome obstacles, bringing peace through uncertain times to achieve your highest goals and aspirations. Your friendly, responsive agent will listen respectfully, and service your account actively through one of three locations in the US.  We speak your language whether it’s English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengal, Hospitality, Laundry or Manicure.

 Let us help you today! Connect with us at www.loanmantra.com or call us at 1.855.700.BLUE (2583)

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