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Will 2022 Be the Year Crypto Payments Catch On?

CryptoISVs and their value-added reseller (VAR) channels put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring that their clients can use different payment methods, from EMV card-present and contactless payments to online, unattended, and mobile payments. But have you considered the type of currency your customers can accept? In the not-so-distant future, more consumers may have the option to use more than government-issued fiat currency and make crypto payments

Interest in cryptocurrency, digital currency secured by an online, decentralized ledger, is on the rise. PYMNTS 2021 BitPay Study found that 12 percent of U.S. consumers currently own one or more cryptocurrencies. Additionally, 18 percent who don’t own cryptocurrency now, about 46 million people, are likely to acquire it to make purchases in the future.

There are several reasons that consumers are attracted to cryptocurrencies. For example, cryptocurrencies, aka bitcoin, can be traded freely on the internet across geographic boundaries. They also aren’t subject to restrictions that banks impose on how much money can be transferred or when it can be sent. Transactions are also anonymous; cryptocurrency networks don’t require name, address or contact information to register – just the digital location of the consumer’s account. In addition to preserving consumers’ privacy, this strategy also protects sensitive data if a data breach should occur.

Also, it appears that interest in cryptocurrency for payments spans generations, although how people of different ages tend to use the currency differently. Research for the PYMNTS Cryptocurrency Payments report, for example, found that about half of all Gen Z and millennial cryptocurrency owners made crypto payments of less than $100, while baby boomers tend to use cryptocurrency for more expensive purchases. Overall, 45 percent of bitcoin holders have used it for purchases in the $100 to $1,000 range.

What Consumers Are Buying with CryptoCurrency

If you’re providing solutions to businesses that offer these products or services, you may find a demand for payment solutions that enable bitcoin acceptance. According to BitPay, segments accepting the most crypto payments are:

  • Prepaid gift cards
  • Internet services
  • VPN and hosting
  • Computer games
  • Precious metals
  • Consumer electronics

Many of those transactions occur online, facilitating payments between parties anywhere around the world. However, this begs the question of when brick-and-mortar crypto payment transactions will be mainstream.

One of the issues standing in the way of in-person crypto payments is that approvals take too long. A customer would have to wait up to 10 minutes to know their transaction is approved, or the merchant would have to take a risk and accept the payment without approval. There are solutions to this challenge, however, such as the Lightning Network that eliminates long confirmation times, reducing approvals from minutes to seconds or subsections.

Another challenge for merchants, whether they sell online or in physical locations, is staying aware of exchange rates. The cryptocurrency market can be volatile, so a transaction amount may be worth less by the time a merchant uses or exchanges it for fiat currency.

Factors Impacting Adoption

Whether merchants can overcome the challenges they face with cryptocurrency and begin to accept them will be a major factor in this payment type’s adoption. It’s clear from the PYMNTS studies that more consumers would like to use bitcoin for payments than are currently doing so. However, how consumers perceive cryptocurrency is another hurdle to cross before widespread adoption. Some owners view their bitcoin as an investment rather than the currency they can use at a local shop or restaurant.

The biggest unknown, though, is consumer preference. Will crypto payments surpass U.S. consumers’ tendency to use their debit cards, mobile wallets, or even cash? Only time will tell if cryptocurrency rises as a preferred payment method.

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