9 Companies That Should Really Start Accepting Bitcoin
Published on August 30, 2014 at 10:55 BST
There once was a time when owning bitcoin meant keeping it idle and unspent in your wallet of choice.
Considering that bitcoin was designed to be transacted, the lack of merchants that accepted bitcoin back then was frustrating to many in the community.
Luckily for us, things have changed.
Some of bitcoin's best features can be seen when businesses receive the digital currency as payment for goods and services: reduced transaction fees, no chargebacks to worry about and an unexpected but significant side effect – a marketing boost.
These features have been enough to draw the attention of several million- and billion dollar companies into the world of bitcoin this year, like Dell, Expedia, Overstock and Dish, which have all integrated bitcoin payments into their business models since the start of 2014.
With that said, there are some companies that are particularly poised to accept bitcoin and reap the rewards of doing so.
Most of these companies have something in common: many are high-tech companies with high-tech customers who may skew on the bitcoin-friendly side, many are companies that fulfill everyday needs of their customers, and many are already known for their openness to experiment with new technology.
Here are nine companies that should really start accepting bitcoin:
Airbnb is shaking up the hospitality industry with its community-based business model for users to book travel accommodations. The service is a favorite among the younger, tech-savvy crowd, so adding bitcoin as a payment option could certainly behoove the San Francisco-based startup.
Having bitcoin payments integrated on Airbnb isn't just wishful thinking, though. There have been whispers in the industry that PayPal subsidiary BrainTree (which provides payment software for Airbnb and the second company on this list, among others) is "in talks" with Coinbase about accepting bitcoin on its platform.
2. Uber (or Lyft)
Uber's mobile app payment software, like Airbnb's, is provided by BrainTree, so if the rumors are true, we may not be too far away from being able to pay for Uber rides with bitcoin.
Aside from pure convenience, if the BrainTree-Coinbase comes to fruition, there are still many reasons why Uber should start accepting bitcoin. Uber customers already use a mobile app to order, communicate with, and pay for their ride, and as such it wouldn't be a far leap for the all-digital company to add bitcoin as a payment option.
Adding bitcoin payments could offer a more nuanced benefit for Uber, though. Competitor Lyft is gaining market share rather quickly, and some have criticized that the two companies offer no distinct benefits over its respective competitor. Integrating bitcoin could offer a PR boost to the first in the market to embrace the progressive technology.
The world's largest online retailer has changed commerce forever by bringing almost everything imaginable into the digital world, so it's a bit surprising to some that Amazon has been slow to warm up to digital currencies.
Bitcoin is particularly convenient for making purchases online (compared to brick-and-mortar stores), and for many other reasons it seems obvious the digital currency would be a great fit for Amazon.
Part of why Amazon may not have the impetus to embrace bitcoin like other online retailers have could be that the retailer enjoys lower credit card transaction fees than most retailers, simply due to the volume of orders the company processes. Still, the fees add up, and adding bitcoin as a payment option could help Amazon's bottom line.
Netflix is another company well-known for disrupting the status quo. Once dismissed as just another movie streaming platform, the media company is now a pioneer of the digital format for new content creation, like its Emmy-award winning original series Orange is the New Black.
Though the model of recurring payments that Netflix uses has yet to be explored with bitcoin on a large scale, the company could potentially draw in new customers by adding an option to pay for subscriptions with bitcoin, and it's not a stretch to imagine this functionality right on the Netflix home screen.
5. Comcast (or Time Warner Cable)
In the same vein as Netflix, cable TV giant Comcast could stand to benefit from accepting bitcoin payments, though not for the same reasons.
Comcast has been going through a bit of a public relations disaster recently, after a number of recorded customer support phone calls were uploaded online. The phone calls were damning to Comcast's reputation, and while customers may not have much of a choice in their cable provider, there's a good chance that allowing customers to pay their TV and Internet bills with bitcoin would win some points in its retention department.
6. Delta (or any major airline)
Sure, there are a select few airlines like airBaltic and Air Lituanica where bitcoiners can buy flights with their beloved digital currency, but the rest of the airline industry should catch up sooner, rather than later.
For one, major airlines have struggled to keep up with the cutting-edge of technology. If Delta, which flies more passengers than any other airline, were to accept bitcoin, it would distinguish itself from competitors as technologically progressive and save considerable amounts of money on credit card chargebacks.
Add the fact that there's probably a decent amount of bitcoin holders who would be eager to splurge on a vacation if they could pay with BTC, and the choice becomes even more clear.
Coffee is an everyday luxury for many people around the world, and few would argue that Starbucks has more brand power than any of its competitors.
Accepting bitcoin would be strategic for Starbucks in more ways than simply luring new techy-savvy customers to its stores. The Seattle-based coffee chain has found big success with its mobile payment app, and the company's CEO, Howard Schulz, has made it clear that Starbucks is focused on mobile and digital (which happen to be two areas that fit perfectly with bitcoin), saying:
"No single competency is enabling us to elevate the Starbucks brand more than our global leadership in mobile, digital, and loyalty. Starbucks is a clear leader in mobile payments and we are encouraged by how consumers have embraced mobile apps as a way to pay."
8. Whole Foods (or any major grocer)
While it may not be the same experience as treating yourself to a coffee, grocery shopping is something that most everybody does on a regular basis.
Of course we in the bitcoin community would like to be able to use the digital currency to pay for all of our needs, but the benefits wouldn't be completely one-sided if Whole Foods or any other major grocer started accepting bitcoin.
Grocery stores, like airlines, have struggled to keep up with the pace of technology, but Whole Foods has successfully positioned itself as more progressive and "hip" than most of its competitors.
Being the first nation-wide grocer to accept bitcoin would solidify this reputation, and it would set the tone for grocers around the world to allow unbanked customers to pay for their groceries with ease.
Venmo is one of the most popular mobile payment apps right now, and more people keep flocking to the platform to send friends and businesses money for free.
The platform is so well-fit to add bitcoin as a payment option that it's almost baffling it hasn't happened yet. With bitcoin payments as an added feature, Venmo would diversify its offerings and bring in a whole new wave of users at the same time.
The benefits of accepting bitcoin don't stop at these nine companies, though.
Unlike some traditional financial systems, bitcoin doesn't discriminate. Pioneers like Overstock and Expedia have reported that their bitcoin revenues have exceeded expectations, and in doing so have helped lead the way for other businesses to join them.
Bitcoin companies image via CoinDesk
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