A large part of any currency's function is to serve as a way to buy and sell goods, and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are especially suited for spending money over the Internet - with low fees and speedy transactions. Now a growing number of businesses are accepting digital currencies, as the available options for payments increase in number and function.
In this guide, CoinDesk takes a look at the e-commerce systems that can help you accept digital currencies as payment on your website or in your real-world store.
Whether you have an online store or a bricks-and-mortar one, if you are accepting bitcoin, you need to publicize that fact with a sign. You can, of course, make your own, or grab the 'bitcoin accepted here' sign from the bitcoin wiki.
If you like to have full control of your website and you have some coding skills, you could accept bitcoins simply by posting your wallet address or QR codes for customers to scan with their smartphone cameras. However, this not only looks very basic, but also accomplishes only half the job, as you should ideally have a checkout procedure that will complete the transaction and accept delivery details.
If programming your own payments interface, bear in mind it should continually create new wallet addresses to defend against "taint analysis", which could invade your privacy, as well as that of your customers. An open-source software library that can help with this is Pywallet. You can also use off-chain transactions to help prevent taint analysis snooping, with the added benefit of faster transactions.
Third-party payment processors
Fortunately for the non-coders among us, there are now many cryptocurrency payment processors that offer tools to integrate bitcoin e-commerce into your website. The following are some of the more established companies in bitcoin payment processing.
Coinbase is another popular bitcoin payment processor with 0% fees (up to the first $1m in transactions and then 1% thereafter). The company provides an HTML widget for easily inserting payment buttons into your website, and plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce, Megento and ZenCart. However, it currently only supports US bank accounts as a funding source. Notable merchants using Coinbase are Dell, Expedia, Overstock and dish.
For bricks-and-mortar businesses, CoinBase also provides a point of sale app.
BitPay is an international payment processor for businesses and charities. As with other payment processors, it has plugins for a large range of e-commerce systems, including WooCommerce and Magento, as well as SaaS-hosted shopping carts like Shopify. Furthermore, BitPay works with Amazon's Fulfilment service, which allows merchants to sell and ship items via the e-commerce giant.
BitPay offers various tariffs that merchants can subscribe to - from a 1% fee for a 'starter' service up to $3000 monthly for the 'enterprise' solution with a dedicated account manager - enabling features such as deployment on custom domains, VPN access, exporting transactions to QuickBooks, and so on.
Short for the Bitcoin Internet Payment System, BIPS is a payment processor that allows merchants from all over the world to buy and sell bitcoin, as well as accept payments in the digital currency. Fees are a more than reasonable 0% for standard payments processing.
BIPS gives you the ability to store and archive invoices, and supplies plugins to interface with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and others. There is also API access for those coding their own solutions. BIPS offers an easy way to provide a mobile-friendly checkout for your website too.
For merchants with bricks-and-mortar retail stores, BIPS offers a point of sale app .
Top stores which accept bitcoin
|Purse.io is a platform which allows you to purchase goods on Amazon using bitcoin by using a third party. It is possible to get a discount for doing this.||SIGN UP|
|Overstock's CEO Patrick Byrne is one of the most vocal supporters of bitcoin technology.||GO TO STORE|
|Newegg is an electronics retailer and accepts bitcoin in the US and Canada using Bitpay.||GO TO STORE|
|Cheapair is an online travel booking website, and accepts bitcoinusing Coinbase.||VISIT MERCHANT|
|Namecheap is domain registrar and web hosting company.||USE SERVICE|
|Tigerdirect is an electronics retailer that accepts bitcoin.||GO TO STORE|
|Computing powerhouse Dell became the largest retailer to accept bitcoin in 2014, and accepts bitcoin in the US, the UK and Canada.||GO TO STORE|
|Takeaway.com allows you to select local restaurants to deliver food.||USE SERVICE|