There’s been a lot of talk about Bitcoin lately. Operating independently of a central bank, Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that’s seeing more and more use within the business world. But is it a safe and viable currency option for start-ups?
First things first: let’s talk about the cost, which is a notable benefit for start-ups. There is no fee to receive Bitcoins, and the platform enables you to control how large a fee you pay when sending money. In-house merchant processor services are available for much lower fees than other payment networks, such as credit card or PayPal.
Bitcoin’s other advantages are numerous. Most notably, it allows users to gain full control over their own money; the currency can be sent and received anywhere in the world, at any time. It also offers a degree of security for merchants, with fewer risks than traditional currency – Bitcoin transactions are secure and irreversible, and do not involve the use of customers’ personal information. This means that merchants are protected from business losses caused by fraud, and also that they are free to expand to new markets where traditional currency or credit card transactions are not available.
Users benefit from Bitcoin’s security measures, too. They can’t be charged hidden fees by merchants, and their identity is always protected during a Bitcoin transaction. Furthermore, the protocol used universally by Bitcoin is cryptographically secure; no one is able to control or manipulate its use, and all information about the currency is permanently and transparently available.
Of course, alongside advantages come the inevitable disadvantages. First and foremost, there’s the fact that Bitcoin is a relatively new and foreign concept to a lot of individuals and businesses. This means it isn’t yet as widely accepted as traditional methods of payment. Because of this, the number of businesses utilising Bitcoin remains quite small – and therefore, its market value is volatile, with the potential to be significantly affected by relatively small events, business activities or trades.
As well as practical disadvantages, Bitcoin has had its fair share of controversy and negative associations. In fact, one of the largest reasons the currency became well-known was through its association with the now-closed Silk Road website – an online black market used for drug sales and other illegal dealings. Before the site was shut down in October 2013, Silk Road users conducted all their transactions using Bitcoin in order to protect the anonymity of their dealings. The currency quickly developed a reputation as being an easy method of financing crime, as its payments can be made private and irreversible.
However, the controversy over Bitcoin’s use in Silk Road dealings has now had time to die down. While many still voice concerns over the currency’s potential for illegal use, most have come to realise that Bitcoin is really no different to cash or wire transfer in this regard. Individuals and businesses are slowly becoming more open to the potential of Bitcoin.
Trust and open-mindedness about the concept is continually bolstered by Bitcoin’s ongoing development and advancement. A huge number of everyday individuals are now performing investments or transactions quickly and easily through Bitcoin-focused mobile apps. Start-ups worldwide are also using Bitcoin to make things easier for their customers, allowing them to make cross-border and peer-to-peer payments as well as offering the convenience of in-app purchases. As the platform continues to advance, it will no doubt gain more and more trust and interest from potential users.
Another key advantage of using Bitcoin within a start-up is its potential audience. Bitcoin is viewed by many entrepreneurs, innovators and tech-savvy consumers as a positive step towards the future of currency. If these are the kinds of people you’re aiming to work with or reach with your start-up, the use of Bitcoin is nothing but an advantage. Its innovative, forward-thinking nature attracts a similarly forward-thinking crowd, focussed on the future of business and currency.
When it comes down to it, there’s no universal answer to the question of whether Bitcoin is suitable for start-ups. It’s safe, yes, and it can be extremely beneficial, but things like this need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. If your start-up would benefit from any of the advantages discussed above – and if it’s prepared to handle the disadvantages – then Bitcoin could be the way of the future for you.
For more information please visit the official Bitcoin website at https://bitcoin.org/en/.