Can you run a business with only cryptocurrency?
It seems like only 5 minutes ago that hearing the term ‘cryptocurrency’ meant you had to do a Google search, bypass swathes of misinformation or ask your most clued-up and techy friend what this concept was all about.
Now, every man and his dog owns 0.01 Bitcoin, encourages all of their friends to sign up to Coinbase and acts like a financial advisor.
Beyond the jokes, cryptocurrency is serious, as demonstrated by the $425bn+ market capitalisation. Whilst money has been poured in, and early adopters have benefited, we are being asked this same question over and over –
‘Can you run a business with only cryptocurrency?’
Examples of businesses running solely on crypto
Finding examples of businesses who only accept cryptocurrencies was actually a lot harder than we thought it would be. We had to ask around, do a lot of Google searching, and appeal to Quora (more on that later). Ultimately, we found several examples:
- Paralelní Polis (Bitcoin Coffee) – Prague
This Bitcoin only café in the capital of the Czech Republic was set up by crypto-anarchist collective Ztohoven, which translates as ‘Frozen’. The idea behind this café is to introduce Bitcoin and the concept of cryptocurrencies to the average person on the street, according to a barista who has a virtual wallet chip implanted into her wrist. A flat screen on the wall monitors the price of Bitcoin and a hole-in-the-wall machine by the entrance allows you to exchange cash for Bitcoin.
Inspired by Bitcoin Coffee in Prague, Nash Basel set up his own ‘crypto café’ on Aungier Street in Dublin. He had made some big profits in 6 months of cryptocurrency trading, sold out, and opened the café – his second in the area. Signs on the wall say ‘Hodl 4 life’ and a Coinbase stream of crypto-prices can be found on a screen. Whilst Nash’s intention was to make the café crypto-only, it hasn’t worked out that way, and despite accepting both Ethereum and Litecoin, he has had only 20 paying customers as of Feb 2018, and so decided to accept cash too. The thought is there, it’s still absolutely commendable. Good luck Nash!
- The Legends Room – Las Vegas
This is a bit different, but it certainly leverages the privacy of cryptocurrencies and virtual wallets. It’s a Las Vegas Strip Club that accepts Bitcoin, and they have some hilarious marketing material, including posing dancers with theoretical Bitcoin manuals (see below). The idea came from martial arts expert Nick Blomgren, who wanted a more secure way for men to keep their strip club trips secret from their wives and partners. Even more bizarrely, you can pay for dances by scanning the barcodes on the strippers’ bodies, and get a 20% discount for doing so. Blomgren claims that this benefits the dancers, as some banks will shut down the accounts of those who work in the adult entertainment industry.
Again, this business is not crypto-only, but it’s close, and becoming increasingly popular.
Run a business with only cryptocurrency? These are your common issues
Getting FIAT can be an issue. For businesses with physical premises, setting up standing orders to pay bills and suppliers is a major issue. To do these things, you have to sell your coins, it’s as simple as that. Until utility companies start accepting crypto, it will stay this way.
By only accepting crypto, you cut out a huge portion of the market. However, if you have faith in the market’s potential for growth, you can undercut large companies, charge a lower price, and use this as an incentive to get people to buy crypto.
Tax is complicated in the crypto world. In the UK, you would only have to pay tax on your crypto-assets when you convert them to FIAT… unless you’re using that FIAT money to pay expenses. So, if you keep all profits as crypto, and pay all expenses as FIAT, you will run at a loss whilst making a profit. Confused? Rightly so.
Who is best positioned to accept cryptocurrency?
Online businesses are, right now, the most likely and best facilitated for accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. Brick and mortar businesses are going to need more time to adopt, because if you rely on customers walking in off the street, you rely on everyone having crypto-assets, and this is not true yet. We believe that eventually, enough people will hodl crypto to allow for crypto-only brick and mortar businesses, but it may take a long time to adopt.
Online businesses selling digital assets, like ebooks, video tutorials or web services are even better placed, as they have no physical overheads for these products, and so can exchange digital products or services for digital currencies.
Litepay is one of many solutions, but in our opinion, it’s in the top 1% for the crypto-to-fiat exchange market. It is a payment processor that exchanges Litecoin for Government fiat anywhere in the world, cross-border, international, and with an emphasis on being easy-to-use for businesses who want to accept crypto-payments.
Litepay solves two problems – sellers who want to sell in crypto but end up with fiat, and the volatility of the market forcing losses on customers. In fact, the system converts Litecoin to fiat immediately, so sellers are not at risk of fluctuating prices. Litecoin has appreciated in value tremendously in recent times, and those who have it, want to use it, and those who want it, want to accept it.
As mentioned earlier – we crowdsourced an answer by putting ‘Can you run a business with only cryptocurrency?’ on Quora.
Here is the top answer, from Franco Muñiz, Crypto enthusiast and investor.
“Yes, of course you can. But…there are limitations.
Do you mean running a business accepting only crypto as a payment method? Or maybe building it based on blockchain? Sure, you can. But you’d be limiting your reach to a relatively small audience. Also, cryptocurrency is meant to build decentralized services, so you won’t be precisely owning everything you make, it’ll be managed by the whole blockchain.
Crypto is still on it’s “dial-up” phase (remember when the internet made all these sounds and you couldn’t use it while someone was using the phone?), which means:
1- Not a lot of people use it. Nowadays it’s not a matter of accessibility, it costs nothing to get a wallet and all you need is a phone, PC, or any device with internet access. The problem is that crypto hasn’t yet been accepted as a currency by most people. Most of them think it’s just a bubble or only an investment method to get rich (or broke) quickly.
2- It doesn’t really have a use, because it’s still controlled by whales (people with a lot of money, even billions, controlling the market as they wish). Yeah, it works and everything, but did you notice what happens when Bitcoin goes down? Every altcoin goes down. No matter if it’s a token or a coin, if it has a great usage or an already working product, they’re all Bitcoin-dependant. And this problem won’t end until crypto gets more audience and it’s more reliable. We probably all agree that some, or most of our friends/family members don’t understand this world and just disregard it.
There are already a lot of companies using blockchain. One of my favorites is Dent. While still only available for Android/iOS just on USA and Mexico, it has an already working product. You can sell your unused mobile data every month, for Dent inside the app. Then, if you’re in need of data, or you travel to a country with a supported mobile carrier (yet to happen), you will be able to buy data super cheap and in a matter of seconds. No more expensive roaming. But as 99% of the coins, this one goes down if Bitcoin goes down.
So yeah. You can create your own coin/token, start an ICO, get some millions, and build a company based on the blockchain. It’s a great challenge and a modern/innovative project, but it’s still really early in crypto and if you intend to provide useful and common services, don’t expect your company to grow with the same audience other “normal” business may have.
If your intention is to make your company big, and earn money, you can start today with blockchain and see results in the long term, or you can run a business (anything other than crypto) and be able to go big, or, on the other hand, get knocked out by crypto in few years.
Thanks for reading! Any questions? email us firstname.lastname@example.org