The year 2014 was a big one for Bitcoin in terms of merchant acceptance, as top companies such as Dell, Microsoft and Overstock.com jumped on board. But the number of entrants so far this year seemingly points to a drop in the appeal of the crypto currency to merchants.
The biggest name to start accepting Bitcoin in the first quarter of 2015 is a subsidiary of top real estate group RE/MAX.bitq, according to Bitcoin news site Coindesk. While there have been rumors of Uber and Airbnb joining the businesses accepting Bitcoin, no decisive step has been taken by either company.
So much has been said about the benefits that Bitcoin can offer merchants accepting it, especially when it comes to the issue of costs. It is therefore hard for some people in the industry to accept that the appeal of the crypto currency is fading away.
Opinions of players in the industry are divided as to whether the phenomenon being witnessed is normal or a sign of loss of confidence on the part of merchants.
Akif Khan, Bitnet vice president of solutions strategy, thinks the drop in big merchant announcements is nothing to be concerned about. He worked out big name announcements made last year to “only one every couple of months” – implying there was no need see the drop in announcement so far this year as a problem.
Bitcoin processor SnapCard chief executive Michael Dunworth is, in fact, optimistic that a greater number of merchants will start accepting the digital currency this year. The latest State of Bitcoin Report by Coindesk supports this view, with the number of merchants accepting the crypto currency forecast to rise to 140,000 – up from 80,000.
However, other people such as GoCoin CEO Steve Beauregard are of the opinion that Bitcoin acceptance has not yet lived up to the expectation of many merchants in terms of sales. Beauregard said low adoption of Bitcoin by consumers is the main issue that needs to be worked on so that acceptance may be made worthwhile to merchants.
It has been observed that the passive approach adopted by these merchants has contributed to the poor results they have seen. Some merchants seem not to be devoting enough effort to the systematic testing and optimization of their checkout process so as to encourage Bitcoin use by customers.
“Merchants should have a strategic plan for digital currency and actually execute on it – not simply sign-up, integrate and expect traffic,” Dunworth said.
Another issue that has somewhat reduced merchant adoption is the decision by popular web content platform WordPress to stop accepting Bitcoin for checkout. The top online publishing platform was among the early advocates of the cryptocurrency’s use and one of the first top merchants to start accepting it. However, WordPress said it will continue to provide its support to the Bitcoin ecosystem.
The benefits offered by Bitcoin adoption still exist – particularly that of low processing fees. Bitnet expressed the belief that enterprise merchants still have interest in accepting the crypto currency with a view to driving up revenue, as reported by Coindesk.