Should Photographers Accept Bitcoin?

If you’re running your own studio, you know: you are ALWAYS on the lookout for a way to monetize. Whether it’s lowering prices, trying out new technologies or methods, or bumping your advertising, it’s a constant challenge to make income exceed outgoing expenses. So it’s hard to just ignore it when some new idea comes down the pike that looks like a potential goldmine.

Like Bitcoin.

Most people don’t understand cryptocurrencies or how they work: they just know they hear and read it about people making millions on minimal investments, and it sounds too good to be true. There were certainly people who DID make a killing with their investments: if you had bought a couple thousand dollars’ worth of Bitcoin a decade ago, you’d likely be a billionaire right now.

Of course, you can’t win bets in retrospect … but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrency is out of the picture for small businesses. Many are saying that cryptocurrencies are the payment method of the future, and you’d be ahead of the game if you started accepting it now.

But is cryptocurrency a good bet for small businesses right now? There are several logistical things to consider before you jump into cryptocurrency; in this post we’ll take a look at some of them.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

Digital currencies are a way to cut the middleman out of a payment transaction. Rather than store your money with an organization like a bank for safekeeping, it exists only in the ether, accessible through an encryption only you have the key to. Cryptocurrency is decentralized by design: no central bank or government regulates or backs it. Buyers transfer funds directly to sellers, without any third party involved that processes the payments.

Everyday people can’t wrap their heads around the idea that the bitcoins themselves don’t physically exist and have no intrinsic value; the only reason cryptocurrency is worth anything is because the value belongs to you and you alone, according to the public ledger. Anyone can look at the ledger and validate this, and if anyone tries to use your cryptocurrency, pretty much everyone will know about it immediately.

Is This for Me?

There are a few benefits to accepting cryptocurrency that you should think about:

  • It’s cheaper. The lack of a middleman means reduced transaction fees. Accepting credit card payments means fees of 25 cents a swipe plus a percentage of the transaction total–with crypto, that’s not a thing.
  • You’re protected. Crypto’s transactions, like cash, are final. That means there are no fraudulent chargebacks, because no third party can reverse charges.
  • It’s global. If you’re not selling prints online, you should consider it. Cryptocurrencies can free you to sell to international buyers–without having to deal in currency conversions.
  • Customers. Accepting cryptocurrency offers means customers have an additional way to pay–one with an extra layer of data protection.

But Why Not?

There are a few reasons to wait on accepting cryptocurrencies, as well:

  • It’s technical. Accepting cryptocurrency is an information-dense process with a high learning curve. You’ll need to choose a processor and set up a digital wallet on an established digital currency exchange … if your eyes are already glazing over, you might need help with this part.
  • It’s still inconsistent. While we’re not seeing the massive value swings of a year ago, cryptocurrencies are still extremely volatile. You’ll need to transfer crypto into a more stable currency on a regular basis.
  • It’s safer-kinda. Cryptocurrency can help eliminate cyberthreats like stolen credit card numbers, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally secure. While companies are working to put more safeguards in place, as yet there is no way to completely stop cybercriminals–and unlike established currencies, cryptocurrencies are not backed or insured.

Like everything else, there are pros and cons with accepting cryptocurrencies. While crypto–and its underlying technology, blockchain–will almost certainly play an increasing role in our financial future, right now taking crypto payments could be more trouble than it’s worth. One suggestion: float the idea past your current customers. If you get excited responses at the prospect, go ahead and look deeper into it. If you’re only met with blank stares, however … maybe it would be better to hold off a year.

The Man

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