Although there is tremendous development across many aspects of the crypto space, advocates remain frustrated at the seemingly low level of adoption by the retail sector. In the ten years since Bitcoin’s release, cryptocurrencies remain a fringe element of global consumer business. Behind the scenes, the situation is changing, as interest from retailers is clearly growing, and a new wave of crypto integration is underway.
At first glance, the retail embrace of crypto may seem to be an obvious choice and relatively simple to enact, yet the truth is more complex. Any method for accepting cryptocurrency must be simple to use and able to process transactions in around five seconds or less. Despite progress, there are few platforms and point-of-sale systems that can reliably deliver this level of performance. Also, accepting crypto creates a myriad of regulatory and tax issues that most businesses would rather not deal with.
Despite these challenges, retailers of all sizes are paying very close attention to cryptocurrency, and many are finding ancillary ways to bring it into their ecosystems. For example, crypto ATMs are growing at a rapid pace, the majority of which are located within retail establishments that receive a percentage of the profits. The collaborations involving these machines are getting larger. For example, every 7 Eleven in the Philippines, more than six thousand total, will soon enable its customers to purchase cryptocurrency via a partnership with Abra.
Perhaps one explanation for the perception that retailers are not moving into the crypto space stems from the fact that this type of adoption is taking place in developing countries, and with little fanfare. For example, it is well-known that crypto is becoming very popular in Latin America. Less understood is the fact that small proprietorships across the realm have become eager to accept Bitcoin and other blockchain assets. This fact is especially true in large cities, where one need not look far to find restaurants, bars, and corner shops that accept crypto.
There are also major moves underway to develop point-of-sale (PoS) systems and other technical infrastructure that will ease the transition into a crypto economy. PundiX, Kappture, and Coingate are but a few of the many institutions that are making strides in this area. Major consumer outlets are paying close attention, and many are all but certain to implement crypto payment options in the near future. PundiX will soon have thousands of payment terminals across Brazil and Venezuela, for example, and Kappture will soon make Nano an option on its payment equipment in the United Kingdom.
Although crypto use in retail remains insignificant when compared to fiat, it is neither trivial nor lacking in utility. Across the globe, businesses are laying the foundation for mass use, and the public is increasingly aware of it as an option. It remains too early to determine when cryptocurrencies will become commonly used by the public, but there should be no doubt that a transition toward mass use is underway.