The number of businesses that bitcoins can be spent is growing at a fast pace and includes online retil shops as well as other small businesses.
Bitcoin payment is gathering momentum in developing nations such as Kenya. While most have viewed bitcoins on the lenses of its mining and or investing, a growing number of businesses are setting up systems in their shops that are able to transact using such cryptocurrencies. Businesses are looking at bitcoins as a means to increase sales and service their customers.
Kenyan online startup Boxlight Electronics (Boxlight.co.ke) is among those that have gone ahead to adopt Bitcoin payment. The company which deals in sales and distribution of electronics and home appliances ventured into the trade two years ago.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that lets consumers exchange money over the Internet. It is a person-to-person payment that does not involve banks.
According to Robinson Murage, the founder, Boxlight Electronics, the startup resulted to incorporating bitcoins as a form of payment as demand from customers grew. “We received tons of requests from our customers to pay using digital currencies. As a company whose 90 per cent of customers are young, tech savvy and predominantly online, it was important that we be all inclusive and adapt to the needs of those that prefer this type of currency,”
To pay for products via Bitcoin several options exist. Boxlight customers can pay through bitcoin Cash Wallet – an app that lets you receive, hold, and spend Bitcoin Cash, a good example being the BitPay bitcoin wallet app. If you don’t yet have Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash in your wallet yet, you’ll need to buy some by converting any currency into and out of Bitcoin using different exchanges.
To make the transaction, you’ll simply send the payment from your e-wallet by scanning the QR code on the checkout section on the website for the product you select. If you purchase Bitcoins using LocalBitcoins.com, the Bitcoins will appear in your Local Bitcoins Wallet. From there you can easily send the Bitcoins to the Boxlight Bitcoin address.
Murage says as bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies grow in popularity, customers are likely to double on it as well. “Giving customers another option of making payments for products will help in accommodating more clients.”
While providing a payment option is crucial to most customers, it also worth noting that transaction fees for bitcoins also tend to be lower as compared to other forms of payment. Transactions normally depend on peer to peer processing hence no middle man or regulators who come in between processing hence making the transaction fees low.
Cryptocurrency burst in the mainstream when the price of one bitcoin (BTC) reached an all-time high of USD 19,783.06 spurring a massive worldwide interest in the block chain-supported technologies. A recent research by Citibank identified Kenya among nations globally with the highest capita for the holding of Bitcoin. The report, reported that the largest bitcoin holdings as a percentage of GDP are in Russia (five per cent), New Zealand and Nigeria (four per cent), followed by Ukraine, Kenya, South Africa, the UK and Colombia in that order.
As for the low adoption for Payment in Kenya, Murage notes that the Bitcoin price volatility is the main reason companies in Kenya are reluctant to endorse Bitcoin for payment. He adds that Boxlight is consistently ranked as one of the best online shopping destinations and regularly earns industry-leading customer service ratings.
“Like any other market, Bitcoins prices fluctuates a lot. Once we receive payment in Bitcoins, I track the crypto news to understand where the market is moving. If it is low, I’ll just hold on to them and sell or cash them when the time is right.”
“Swings, whether upward or downward, are difficult to predict, but the overall direction is generally upward,” adds Murage.
In Kenya, cryptocurrencies received a major blow after Central Bank of Kenya issued a circular to all banks in the country warning them against dealing with cryptocurrencies or engaging in transactions with crypto-related entities since the virtual currency is not a legal tender in the country. “Digital currencies are not going away, it’s like hybrid cars, it’s the way of the future, and businesses should adopt and learn when they still have time. It’s an unstoppable revolution, one that I am happy to be part of,” says Murage.
Global stores that have since accepted bitcoins as a mode of payment include; Microsoft, overstock, Newegg, Dell among others.