Data Analysis  •  News

Study: Half of US Small Businesses Aren't Ready to Accept Bitcoin

(@https://twitter.com/mpmcsweeney) | Published on October 29, 2014 at 21:35 BST

A new study suggests that consumers and businesses in the United States remain apprehensive about the prospect of using digital currency, as well as digital payment tools and platforms currently available on the market.

Software research firm Software Advice surveyed roughly 400 small business owners and customers, who answered a series of questions regarding their willingness to use digital currencies should they become more widely adopted.

About two-thirds of consumer participants suggested that they are unlikely to use bitcoin or other digital currencies, with 49% specifying that they are “not likely at all”. 50% of business owners surveyed said their companies are not equipped to handle digital currency usage, though 19% said that they have taken steps to accept it.

The results of the survey echo previous surveys of consumer and business sentiment toward bitcoin in which those groups have expressed an unwillingness to buy or use digital currencies.

As the report noted:

“When respondents were asked about their likelihood to use digital currency in the event that it becomes more broadly accepted, the results were split. Approximately half (49%) were ‘not at all likely’ to use digital currency even if it were widely accepted. Another 18% reported that they were ‘minimally likely’ to do so.”

Business owners cite unreadiness

While the regulatory framework for digital currency use as a mainstream payment method is still taking shape, companies may have to face tax requirements and transaction reporting standards if they operate in the US or do business with with American customers.

Many companies that took part in Software Advice’s survey suggested that they aren’t ready to handle the reporting requirements that would come with accepting digital currencies. 39% said they had no preparations in place to do so, and an additional 14% suggested they had minimally prepared to report digital currency earnings.

At the same time, 34% of businesses in the survey indicated that they had plans in place to report digital currencies in their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings. Of that number, 27% said they were “very prepared”.

A larger number of small businesses said that they aren’t ready for the financial reporting requirements they may be subject to in the future, according to Software Advice.

The firm says in its report:

“Readiness here was lower than for tax preparation, with the majority being ill-prepared (42% ‘not at all prepared’ and 17% ‘minimally prepared’). 17% were only ‘somewhat prepared’, while the smallest numbers of respondents were ‘very prepared’ (15%) or ‘ahead of the curve’ (9%).”

Small businesses also expressed broad apprehension to working with companies in the digital currency space. 54% said they weren’t prepared to make deals with firms in the bitcoin space, though roughly 30% said they had taken steps to make such partnerships.

SMB software challenges

The same group of business owners expressed concerns that their existing software infrastructure isn't ready for digital currencies.

70% suggested they are unconfident about having the necessary means to accept digital currency, with the remaining 30% indicating they have such means.

Software Advice explained in its report:

“A number of businesses still had faith that their accounting software would be able to meet the needs brought about by digital currency, with 13% being ‘moderately confident’, 11% ‘very confident’ and 6% ‘extremely confident’.”

The report didn’t indicate how small businesses feel about the prospect of having these concerns addressed in the future. However, it cited the emerging business-to-business ecosystem for digital currencies as a positive sign for US companies, and noted how the evolving nature of bitcoin regulation on both the state and federal levels could result in more clarity – and comfort – for business owners.

Image via Shutterstock

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