Online shopping is extremely popular and highly convenient for both customers and online retailers alike. The internet has allowed businesses from all over the world to offer their products and services to a global audience and compete with companies that previously held a monopoly in the market. Of course there are still major online retailers like Amazon.com, eBay , Alibaba and Jingdong that dominate the market and take their cut when businesses that use their services make a sale.
Unfortunately the centralization of power almost always has negative consequences. Amazon has been accused of unfair pricing policies by Washington DC. In a BBC News article published on May 25th 2021, the online retail giant has been served with a lawsuit alleging that its control of up to 70% of US online sales inevitably means higher prices for consumers. While Amazon contends that the lawsuit has it ‘exactly backwards,’ Washington believes the company to be guilty of anticompetitive behavior and abusing its position as a retail giant.
Does Brick-and-Mortar Still Count?
While online shopping may be the only way for many merchants, there are still those businesses that sell goods and offer services from their own homes or rent commercial premises to run their operations. Naturally there are challenges here as well with an ongoing global pandemic, high rental prices and having to hire credit card machines to process payments. As an article by Payjunction points out, credit card companies falsely advertise this service as cost-effective and trap companies into paying for a terminal they no longer need. Moreover, if a company is particularly unethical, they will simply auto-renew the terminal lease.
There are certainly many more pitfalls to consider when running a business, but what is clear is that new answers to commerce are needed. Thankfully crypto and Blockchain technology has evolved to the point where several options exist so that retailers can market directly to their clientele and receive payments immediately without having to go through any intermediaries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options currently on offer.
Coinbase is well-established in the crypto world. With 56 million verified users, it is one of the biggest resources and platforms for crypto trading, development and adoption in the world. It should come as no surprize that with its growth, Coinbase has expanded the range of products and services that it offers to end-users.
Coinbase Commerce allows merchants to set up a crypto payments platform in a few easy steps. Perhaps the best part of Coinbase Commerce is that there are absolutely no fees when it comes to accepting crypto. This means that all the financial benefits and profits that a merchant earns is entirely theirs. Some of the main benefits of using Coinbase Commerce are as follows:
- Rapid - Setting up a crypto payment gateway takes mere minutes
- No Charge - There are absolutely no fees payable for using Coinbase Commerce
- Convert - Businesses may sell their crypto for fiat or USDC
- Accept Stablecoins - Merchants can accept stablecoins such as USDC and DAI as payment
- Global Market - Crypto payments mean that retailers can accept payments from virtually anyone in the world
- No Middlemen - When customers pay in crypto, there are no third-parties or intermediaries that take a cut. All profits go directly to the merchant
- No Reversals - ‘Chargebacks are a thing of the past’ since crypto transactions cannot be reversed
Coinbase Commerce is already integrated with WooCommerce and Shopify , meaning that any merchants using either of these popular eCommerce platforms can easily add Coinbase Commerce to their stores if they so wish. According to Coinbase Commerce’s site, over 8,000 merchants and counting are already accepting cryptocurrency as a means of payment.
Merchants who sign up with Coinbase Commerce can do so in about 4 minutes and can enjoy a host of additional benefits including invoicing, multi-currency payments, zero limits, fiat and stablecoin conversions, a streamlined API, webhooks for charges, customized payment buttons and hosted checkout pages.
Crypto.com Pay is yet another platform that allows merchants to accept payments in crypto. Crypto.com itself may not be quite as big as Coinbase, but in February 2021, it passed the 10 million user mark. According to its Pay division’s page, Crypto.com Pay is supported by over 30 million ERC20 wallets. It serves as an intuitive payments gateway for merchants in which they can easily send invoices and manage payments via the platform’s powerful dashboard. Like Coinbase Commerce, Crypto.com Pay’s payment gateway takes just a few minutes to set up.
Crypto.com Pay is integrated into several eCommerce platforms including WooCommerce, OpenCart , Ecwid , Oveit , nopCommerce and PrestaShop . The benefits of using Crypto.com Pay as a merchant include:
- Rapid Integration - Crypto.com Pay has been created by developers for developers in order to ensure quick and painless integration
- Zero Fees - Merchants pay absolutely no fees on any transactions settled using crypto
- Low Fees for Fiat - Businesses can save up to 80% on fees when settling a payment in their preferred fiat currency
- Seamless Payments - Crypto payments are fast, secure and direct, meaning transactions are settled in little to no time at all
Customers also benefit by transacting with businesses and merchants that use Crypto.com Pay:
- Customers can pay with over 30 different tokens including CRO, ETH, BTC, DOT and DOGE
- Crypto can be sent to friends free of charge
- Customers can earn up to 10% in Crypto.com Coin (CRO) funded by the network
- There is no need to convert currencies in order to complete payments
- Transactions are 100% secure, rapid and direct
Crypto.com Pay is ideally suited for online merchants who want to integrate crypto payments into their websites. Users may also sign up to use Crypto.com Pay and earn rewards when they make transactions and transfer funds to their friends and family. For merchants and users who are worried about paying in cryptos where the price is subject to fluctuations, stablecoins such as USDC, USDT and TUSD are available as a means of payment.
NOWPayments provides merchants with the ability to easily set up and integrate crypto payments into their website or store. Founded in 2019 by the same team responsible for ChangeNOW , a cryptocurrency exchange service, NOWPayments wishes to provide businesses with a crypto payment gateway that is easy to use and embed into existing websites.
The process with NOWPayments really is simple. All merchants need to do is set up an account, select an integration and decide where to place the ‘Pay’ button on their website. Once this last step has been completed, merchants can immediately start accepting crypto payments from customers all over the world. NOWPayments offers the following features to prospective merchants:
- Over 50 Coins - Businesses can accept payments in over 50 different cryptocurrencies including BTC, ETH, LTC, LINK, ARK, ZIL, FTM and ICX
- A Range of Stablecoins - NOWPayments allows merchants to accept numerous stablecoins including TUSD, DAI, USDTTRC20, USDTERC20, PAX, BUSD and USDC
- Competitive Fees - NOWPayments claims that their fees are the lowest on the market and start from around 0.4%
- Immediate Payouts - Merchants receive funds directly into their wallets almost instantly
- Premium Account Manager - Businesses are provided with a personal manager and 24/7 support for any issues they may encounter
NOWPayments is already integrated with a wide variety of eCommerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, OpenCart, Ecwid, WHMCS , PrestaShop, Magento and Zen Cart . They have also forged partnerships with numerous entities including OKEx , Crypto Posters , AMLBot , Verge , Guarda , Bitcoin Meister , Travala.com and Kun Koro .
NOWPayments guarantees no chargebacks as well as instant payments and some of the lowest fees in the cryptosphere. The platform offers several options to merchants and developers including numerous plugins, an API and an invoicing system.
One of the standout parts of NOWPayments is their offer to create custom solutions for any businesses or merchants that feel they need a tailor-made answer to their crypto payment requirements. Merchants have the option to access portals for Gambling sites or Casinos as well as Mass Payments, but if neither of these avenues are appropriate, a request can be submitted directly to NOWPayment’s team for consideration.
Founded in 2014, CoinGate is a ‘Lithuania-based fintech company that offers cryptocurrency payment processing services for businesses of any size.’ At time of writing, the platform currently has 248,000 registered users, 1,360,000 merchant orders and carried out over 1.4 million transactions.
According to its website, CoinGate has made ‘strong partnerships’ with several different businesses including DIMOCO , Changelly , Elliptic , Simplex and DaoPay . CoinGate allows users and merchants to accept over 50 different cryptos as payment and also gives them the opportunity to convert their crypto into fiat. The process with CoinGate is straightforward:
- A merchant sells a product or service, and CoinGate allows any website or brick-and-mortar store to accept crypto payments from customers
- A customer selects CoinGate as a payment method and is presented with a list of cryptocurrencies that they can pay with
- CoinGate generates an invoice by calculating the price of the merchandise in the relevant crypto and finally providing a payment window for the customer
- Once a crypto payment is received, CoinGate transfers the earnings to the merchant in the form of Euros, Bitcoin, other supported cryptos or all assets if so desired
As with the previous platforms, registration on CoinGate is fast and easy. Merchants can customize their crypto payments infrastructure, track orders, issue invoices and manage their earnings with ease. CoinGate also allows merchants to choose from a range of integration options including plugins and modules, payment buttons or the CoinGate API. As an added bonus, if businesses are still unsure about using CoinGate, they can try out the various features of the platform in a safe environment via the CoinGate Sandbox .
Not to be confused with Crypto.com Pay, Cryptopay For Business is (by their estimation) ‘the quickest and easiest way to get started accepting cryptocurrency payments.’ Founded in October 2013, Cryptopay functions as a wallet and payments platform where consumers and merchants can carry out transactions with each other while also being backed by the Bitcoin payment protocol.
Cryptopay for Business allows merchants to accept payment in several cryptocurrencies including BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC and BCH. Customers may also select stablecoin USDT as a means to pay for products if they so wish. Cryptopay highlights the following benefits of their platform:
- Guaranteed Exchange Rate - Whether a client is buying a pair of shoes or a plane ticket, Cryptopay for Business provides merchants with a guaranteed exchange rate, carefully managing any volatility in price and charging a flat 1% transaction fee
- Accept Crypto Payments - Merchants can receive payments in the form of crypto and have funds sent directly to their bank accounts. Payments are settled on a daily basis across numerous currencies
- Maximize International Conversion Rates - Businesses can accept and process payments from customers across the world without having to depend on local payment methods (which are often limited)
- Credit and Debit - Customers can credit and debit their account balances using cryptos. Business payments can be sent and received globally in a matter of moments
- Zero Chargebacks - Merchants can forget fraudulent payments and take total control over their funds. A refund is only valid if a merchant deems it so
Cryptopay for Business claims they have ‘the most flexible payments API for cryptocurrencies around.’ The platform understands all businesses are different and offers a range of options including plug-and-play gateways for eCommerce, on-brand checkouts and rule-based processing.
Lastly, Cryptopay for Business offers a comprehensive back office for merchants. Here businesses can access transaction records, create sub-accounts, enable permission-based access and make use of multiple APIs depending on their unique requirements.
The Role of Direct Commerce in Crypto Adoption
While several platforms exist to allow businesses to accept cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of businesses have no facilities for accepting crypto. According to a Statista analysis by Raynor de Best, as of March 9th 2021, the top five industries accepting cryptocurrencies or permitting access to a cryptocurrency ATM are, in descending order:
- Quick Service and Casual Dining Restaurants - 1,904
- Accommodation - 1,159
- IT Services - 1,129
- Public ATM Machines (Business Unknown) - 1,084
- Convenience Stores and Gas Stations - 958
These figures are an estimate, but the data is based on collated information from around the world. Another article from Currency Exchange International states that over 15,000 businesses worldwide accept Bitcoin. While this is a significant number, on a global scale, it’s a tiny percentage when one considers there are some 582 million entrepreneurs in the world (or at least a SmallBizGenius article by Dragomir Simovic claims).
The fact is that the legacy financial system still dominates the world. In addition, many businesses are sole proprietors that have little knowledge of fintech or simply lack the technical know-how and facilities to access banking services, let alone cryptocurrencies. Having said this, more and more people are gaining access to smartphones and are becoming more tech-savvy with each passing day. It’s simply a matter of time before they discover new ways to manage their finances and take control of their money.
Inevitably the onus is on businesses and merchants to expose customers to new payment methods and more effective ways of carrying out transactions. Moreover, merchants will need to communicate how cryptocurrencies cut out intermediaries and effectively make products and services more affordable for consumers. By including cryptocurrency payment gateways into their websites and stores, businesses will expose their clients to new payment options and aid in the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment.
Communities and individuals are discovering crypto and Blockchain technology every day, and it is fundamentally changing the way work is done. As businesses shift towards more streamlined forms of payment and work to cut out middlemen, customers and end-users should follow suit as they realize the many benefits that crypto offers both organizations and individuals. This will take time, but with deepening economic woes and an ongoing pandemic, the uptake in crypto-based solutions is only set to increase.