Crypto currencies (or ‘Cryptos’) are currencies just like Pounds, Euros, US Dollars etc but they are digital rather than physical. You can convert pounds to Bitcoin and Bitcoin to pounds.
Cryptos have many of the same problems as physical currency such as the risk of counterfeiting but have hi-tech ways of combatting this e.g. by using blockchain technology which is a distributed public ledger system used to ensure the legitimacy of record keeping (coming in a future article!)
Cryptos are decentralised, so do not come under the control of a government or central authority, which means that they are not ‘controlled’ and cannot be taken away from you – you own them.
There are many different cryptos available such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum, XRP. How do you know which one to choose? Well if you don’t understand why a specific crypto exists or believe in its reason for existence then you probably shouldn’t choose it! If you have to pick one, stick to the bigger more established ones such as BTC.
Is crypto anonymous? Well yes and no. It’s pseudo-anonymous, so for example a BTC address is not tied to the identity of a user at a protocol level. So, if your pseudonym is not linked to your user ID then yes, it’s anonymous and a transaction cannot be tied back to you.
What are the uses / where can you spend them?
- Some retailers are now accepting cryptocurrency (predominantly BTC) as payment on their on-line stores, but they are still in the minority. On the dark web, anonymity is the norm, so most e-commerce transactions take place in crypto.
- As a sameday courier company, if you accept cash bookings, then you could accept crypto as a method of payment (so you could offer cash on collection/delivery, credit card or BTC)
- Can be used as a payment for invoices. If you had an account customer who wanted to settle their invoice using crypto – then you could accept it as a form of payment. After all it’s conceptually no different than dealing with a customer who wants to pay you in Euros.
How do you take payment?
- There are billions of pounds sloshing around in crypto and in an ever more security and privacy centric society, many people have crypto wallets and like spending online using crypto to avoid having their purchasing habits tracked. Better to be in than not in, right?
- It’s not that complicated to adopt – really you are just accepting another currency.
What are the cons/risks?
- Accepting crypto as a form of ‘cash’ payment for courier services does open you up to the risk of not knowing who your customer really is – something that is useful in the event of an investigation! This technically is no more a risk than accepting cash and could be mitigated with some checks.
- Cryptos are extremely volatile in their value which means when exchanging to mainstream physical currencies it is possible to make large gains but equally large losses. For example, BTC has recently seen swings in excess of 10% in a 24-hour period.
- Due to the current levels of volatility, you would still need to set your pricing in GBP rather than in crypto denominations (e.g. please pay 100 GBP worth of BTC – which is no different to saying please pay 100 GBP worth of EUR).
Conclusion and opinion:
Right now, in 2020 if I were running a courier company and looking to be considered at the leading edge of tech, I would be looking to implement a crypto payment system (probably BTC) into my guest checkout process.
The use of crypto currencies is only going to increase; especially with the growing sentiment towards on-line privacy.
For now, prices will need to be pegged in local currency values until the volatility of cryptos settles down.
This isn’t financial advice – do your own research and make your own decisions based on your own needs.