Do You Take Bitcoin?

December 6th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Digital Payments in 2021 and Beyond

By Chris Collier

You polish off your fish and chips at one of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’s 30-plus locations. It’s time to pick up the tab and you’re buying for the booth. Your pockets are free of metal coins and your wallet is bare of crumpled dollar bills. The server approaches the table with a BitPay invoice QR code that you scan for payment. Digital Bitcoins flow from your phone into your waiter’s pocket. This is a dining experience that Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta is working to make a reality. Landry’s owns a number of restaurant chains, including Morton’s The Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Mastro’s.

Accelerating Trends

Ten of Mastro’s locations—one of Landry’s upscale concepts—accept Bitcoin as payment. The current tally stands after Fertitta announced in April that most of his restaurant chain’s brands would accept Bitcoin.

But Fertitta isn’t the sole Bitcoin believer; its relevance is rising. Microsoft has allowed gamers to purchase Xbox store cards with the digitized payment since 2014 and handymen and women can spend the currency at Home Depot. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4474 into law this June. The law amends the state’s Business and Commerce Code to recognize cryptocurrencies and defines a “virtual currency as a digital representation of value that is not *legal tender and is used as a medium of exchange or a store of value.” This September, El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a national currency.

*Cryptocurrency, or ‘crypto,’ is climbing its way into the current day; what seems futuristic is becoming conventional. The world of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin is facilitated and expanded by society’s contactless trends.

What is a cryptocurrency, when did it originate and how does it work? Cryptocurrency is a payment type that can be exchanged online for goods and services, according to NerdWallet. Many cryptocurrencies function using *blockchain, a decentralized technology spread across computers that manages and records transactions. The currency is nearly impossible to
counterfeit or double-spend because it is secured by *cryptography, according to Investopedia.

The Basics

Bitcoin was the first crypto to hit the market when it launched on Jan. 3, 2009. There are more than 10,000 different cryptocurrencies being traded publicly in 2021, according to CoinMarketCap.

But how does one buy—or invest in—crypto? It starts with picking a crypto exchange or broker. A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where the currency can be traded among buyers and sellers, according to Forbes. Coinbase, Gemini and Binance. US, are well-known cryptocurrency exchanges. Some feel cryptocurrency brokers are more user-friendly,  featuring less complex interfaces than exchanges. Two of the most notable crypto brokers include Robinhood and SoFi—these names might ring a bell.

Where can crypto investors spend their hard-earned Dogecoin? According to CO—a digital platform from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—small businesses can use BitPay and CoinBase Commerce for payment. CO says that these processors typically offer a 1% or less transaction fee. Consider Coinbase. “After selling to your Coinbase *fiat wallet, you can opt to either cash out funds to your U.S. bank account or repurchase cryptocurrency on the platform,” says its website.

All Digital

47% of consumers say they will not shop at a store that doesn’t offer a contactless payment method, according to Visa’s 2021 Back to Business Study. The study also cites that 44% of small businesses believe contactless, or other mobile payment acceptance, is a critical investment area.

All Pro Window Tinting in Decatur, Texas, has been in business for 31 years. Owner John Little didn’t begin accepting card payments until the early 2000s. Today, 75% of his business transactions are digital, but he’s noticed a surprising trend during the last 19 months—an increase in cash usage. Ed Mundt, owner of Munster Tint and Vinyl in York, Neb., has noticed an increase in physical payment, too. His accepted payment methods are cash, checks, credit cards, Venmo and PayPal. Most of his business transactions are physical, with digital accounting for 10%. His location has played into his reluctance to look into crypto.

“I only live in a town of 7,000 people, so I’m not in a huge town,” Mundt says. “I like to see stuff evolve and see where it’s going before I jump on the wagon.”

Brodie Matthews, owner of DeCo Tint and Tint America in Arvada, Colo., saw credit card processing increase by 20% during COVID. Matthews’ smartphone sales have increased by 75% simultaneously.

“We created an online store for our services which can be pre-purchased online,” Matthews says. “That’s what helped set us up with contactless scheduling and contactless delivery. … It’s helped us sell over the phone because I [can] walk our clients through the services. They see everything, as opposed to just calling for a quote.”

The Future is Now

Cash wasn’t a payment option at this year’s Super Bowl—a historical first. Apple, Venmo and Paypal hold market share today, but Crypto could very well rule tomorrow. How is cryptography meshing with the window film industry?

Green Valley Window Tinting in Henderson, Nev., had more than $1 million in sales in 2020. Architectural division manager Joshua Miller has been investing in crypto since 2017, focusing on Ethereum and Bitcoin. He says that stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency built to offer more stability than other cryptos because it is backed by assets like the U.S. dollar or gold, could have a future in business. Taxing, in addition to price fluctuation, is another hurdle the currency faces.

“There’s taxes involved when you sell your crypto so that’s another problem with using stuff that’s not a stablecoin for daily transactions,” Miller says. “If you sell it for a profit, there’s a 35% property tax because right now, our government in the U.S. considers crypto property. So you have 35% capital gains on any of your profit. If you spend your Bitcoin with me and it’s massively profitable, you now have to pay 35% taxes on that profit.” Michael Bergren, owner of The Man Cave in Westminster, Colo., says his company had $912,000 in sales in 2020 and is projected for$1.5 million in 2021. He began investing in crypto in May 2019. He says the use of cryptocurrency in the window film industry is inevitable.

“If you look at how much money the government is printing right now, our dollar is devaluing,” Bergren says. “If you’re accepting money in the dollar, and hold on to it, it’s only going down.”

The cryptocurrency process is a complicated one. Dario Robles, owner of The Tint Co. in Richmond, Calif., and investor of Bitcoin, DogeCoin and Ethereum, thinks it’s preventing the mainstream from understanding. “It isn’t as complicated as people think,” Robles says. “[There are] a little bit more steps than we’re used to. We like convenience. You have to change your wallet and put your cash in to buy this coin to be able to get that coin. If everything was on a level playing field, I think people would jump on it more.”

Cryptocurrency is a potential point of payment that Matthews is taking seriously.

“Like anything new, people are going to be timid toward change,” Matthews says. “I think our world is changing drastically, especially looking into electric vehicles and how much has changed. I see [it being] less than five years—no earlier than three—where we start having crypto as a main currency.”

The Digital Age Defined

Legal tender (noun): Money that is legally valid for the payment of debts and must be accepted for that purpose when offered.
Cryptocurrency (noun): Any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions.
Blockchain (noun): A digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.
Cryptography (noun): The enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code or cipher.
Fiat money (noun): Money (such as paper currency) not convertible into coin or specie of equivalent value.

Source: All definitions courtesy of The dictionary by Merriam-Webster

Chris Collier is the assistant editor for WINDOW FILM magazine.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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