When Heartland Payments e-commerce director Joe Wysocki looks to add a product or service to his company's portfolio, he looks for three factors – that it will help Heartland's merchants improve security, convert shoppers and obtain repeat business.
Bitcoin, Wysocki says, aligns with these principles.
In a new interview with CoinDesk, Wysocki discussed the strategy behind the fifth-largest US payments processor's recent referral deal with BitPay, and the forces that encouraged it to consider its first opportunity in the digital currency market.
Overall, Wysocki described the deal as one that would add another "arrow" to Heartland's "quiver" of payments options.
Observe then act
Wysocki indicated that Heartland has been observing activities in the bitcoin space "for quite some time", and that some of its merchants have reported hearing requests from customers who wanted a bitcoin payment option.
"As a result, we felt in Q4 of last year, it made sense to add a bitcoin acceptance capability to our arsenal of services, so we can direct them to a best of breed partner like Bitpay that can work with them on their integrations," Wysocki said.
Wysocki said that this approach is similar to how it has integrated other alternative payment methods in the past, using a strategy he described as "crawl, walk and run".
"This is consistent with the way we handle a lot of services – based on market feedback, we will in some point potentially build from there. With a lot of these services, it's about monitoring and managing as they go forward," he added.
For now, Wysocki reported that Heartland will continue to work with its merchants to help them understand bitcoin.
"Part of that approach over time is working to educate our merchants on the nuances of bitcoin and our partnership with BitPay, but realistically that's an education process we go through with a lot of alternative payment modalities," he said.
Wysocki noted that this education process is likely to take time, as will the ramp up in the ease of use of bitcoin from a merchant's perspective.
As an example, he cited PayPal as a payment method that followed a similar trajectory.
"Traditionally, Paypal was a product where the merchants had to establish an account with PayPal and a processor like Heartland would convey the transactions direct to PayPal, and what that meant for the merchant was they had two endpoints that they needed to reconcile," he continued.
Wysocki said that Heartland is just on the cusp of introducing a solution for this issue, but suggested it as evidence of the slow development cycle he believes bitcoin has entered, one that could blossom over time.
"That's just one example where we started with that crawl, walk [and] run approach," he concluded.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.
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