Doug Morton, CEO of BTCRetailX, will be joining several Bitcoin payments thought-leaders and innovators on a Lightning Payments panel at Bitcoin Day Charlotte at the McColl Center in Charlotte, NC on June 11, 2022.
If you are a merchant retailer new to the concept of accepting Bitcoin, either on-chain or off-chain (I’ll briefly cover these shortly), I wanted to post a brief overview that covers the why of acceptance.
Bitcoin is a electronic payment method that was introduced in 2009 and has grown organically over time. From a proof of concept worth fractions of a penny to a method of payment and store of value worth many thousands of dollars in 13 years is astounding. Without going into Bitcoin’s reason for being and its use as hard money (these concepts and more are covered by many specialized economic theory books), let’s just talk the basics of business interaction with customers.
Business owners go head over heels to attract customers to their business in a myriad of ways. Advertising. Sales. Specialized products. Product availability. Coupons. And even payment methods… Cash, Credit Cards, PayPal, Cash App, Venmo, Check, Gift Cards/Certificates, Barter, etc…
Business owners invest in ways that make people want to shop with your business and having an easy to use method of payment is a very strong consideration. People love to use their credit cards because cards can typically provide free miles for travel, delayed payment with instant gratification, easing of cash flow, and the credit they provide. A lot of people aren’t aware that a lot of these benefits provided by the credit cards are passed to the merchant who then must decide to absorb these costs or add them to the cost of doing business to turn a profit. You, as a merchant, are paying for the gold card perks of Visa, MasterCard and American Express and you are doing it for an average of 3% per transaction. For every $100 received in as revenue from a credit card, you are spending $3 (minimum) for this privilege and convenience. This ends up taking away 6% in margin away from your net profit. That adds up to a lot of money that #Bitcoiin via lightning payments mitigates almost completely. Imagine a 6 million dollar a year in sales business transitioning to #Bitcoin lightning payments and saving $150,000 a year in credit card fees. That is the vision.
This incentivizes your customers to spend #bitcoin via lightning because your savings will be passed down to the customers via lower prices thru market forces. You are no longer absorbing a full 3% in fees. You’ll want to adjust your prices to reward/incentivize those who spend their #bitcoin with you.
#Bitcoin Lightning facilitates INSTANT PAYMENTS (just as quick or faster than credit cards) between your customers and your point of sale terminal.
#Bitcoin Lightning facilitates INSTANT SETTLEMENT of funds – no waiting 24-48 hours for your funds to sweep to your bank account like standard credit card payments.
BTCRetailX integrates Bitcoin Lightning payments in its point of sale but the BTCRetailX team can also integrate Bitcoin Lightning payments into most existing legacy financial transaction systems including accounting, hotel ecommerce and legacy point of sale. Just ask.
What an amazing time to be in this industry. Point of Sale has been the MOST BORING industry for decades. And I should know, I’ve been a part of it for 14 years selling point of sale systems from Intuit and Microsoft. I have been looking to replace my legacy products for years. They are bloated, they expire often and have huge subscription fees, and the publishers generally don’t listen to their customers because they are beholden to their stockholders and the bottom line. Nor do they specifically care about privacy or self-sovereignty and self-custody. I wanted something better.
Last year, I attended Bitcoin2021 in Miami and left with a goal to get a viable point of sale up and running (because El Salvador and ya know, @nayibbukele and @jackmallers) to enable bitcoin and Lightning Network payments integrated alongside traditional payment methods (ie credit cards). Along with my knowledge of the point of sale product and industry, I am also a privacy, and bitcoin, advocate and bought a @start9labs Embassy personal server. The @start9labs Embassy provides a privacy-centric and security-based platform with a marketplace of apps that fits this ethos. I decided to build (wrap) an app specifically for this platform. A platform that hosts a Bitcoin Core node, Lightning Network Daemon (LND), and various tools and utilities to facilitate payments and privacy. My thinking is that small business owners will want the option of self-custody of their hardware and bitcoin for privacy and lower capital costs.
I then spent the last ten months getting a team together to enable bitcoin/lightning and credit cards into a functional and quick retail point of sale system specifically to release at the Bitcoin2022 conference. After some speed bumps and hiccups along the way, we got it done. The proof of concept hardware/software bundle that is #BTCRetailX 0.1 was received with amazing reviews by everyone that took a look while at the conference. The fascinating part of this is that after 14 years of attending stuffy, corporate conferences, the BTC2022 conference in Miami (@thebitcoinconf) was the best one I’ve ever been to in terms of engagement, energy, referrals, partnerships and customers for any previous point of sale product I’ve ever presented, full stop, period.
I’ve met store owners in Mexico, hotel owners from Europe (which we have a solutions too), numerous cannabis dispensary owners, mom and pop shop owners, sales teams wanting to resell the product, distributors wanting to provide their services in Latin America, and Europe, ATM companies (several) wanting to integrate the payments functions, as well as people wanting to license and white-label the product for their own reseller needs.
The energy I took away from Miami is what is supposed to happen at a conference and this energy has been missing for a few years. While I would like to say it was my product that was the rails to provide the energy, it was the buzz of #bitcoin that electrified the audience.
While I appreciate all the @jackmallers is doing from his platform to get the corporate world to embrace #bitcoin and the NCR news is goodnews overall for the industry, I, along with countless others are also growing this industry organically and with passion. We all have a vision for better money and it is available now.
#btcretailx is available in two flavors:
as an on-site bundled system for those that want a self-custody, self-sovereign point of sale system with one up-front price
as a hosted solution for those that want more oversight in system management and support of their system via a subscription and product lease.
As a wrap to an amazing week of networking, I want to remind everyone that bitcoin is for everyone. It’s for our kids, it’s for the poor, it’s for the wealthy, it’s for everyone, and it’s for this amazing guy, Jimmy Void, of the Bronx Bitcoin Bulls, and his @maxkeiser signed #bitcoin tat. I stood in line Saturday morning with Jimmy and his crew talking bitcoin monetary theory, and it was dope.
We’ve been hard at work getting ready for Bitcoin 2022 in Miami. Our hard work is paying off. We have a retail point of sale (BTCRetailX) that provides integrated payments for bitcoin lightning as well as credit cards now! Take Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover along with Lightning payments in your point of sale. Integration is key as this lessens the occurrence of errors in data entry – the system sends the balance due to the credit card machine or bitcoin QR code generator instead of having a cashier having to type in the amount in a separate system. And it’s fast!
Do you want to accept Bitcoin and BTC/Lightning Network payments? Don’t make a quick decision thinking it will be a piece of cake implementation just because your Umbrel or Start9 Embassy has a one-button install. Just like any business tool implemented, you will want to be prepared. This provides some of the questions we ask our clients about how they want to run their implementations.
What is your estimated volume? Low (1-500 month), Medium (501-2500), High (2501 and up)
What system is btcpayserver or LNBits hosted on or do you need us to provide a hosting platform?
Are you self-hosting on a Raspberry Pi via Umbrel, Start9, Nodl, Casa or other? If so, give thought to physical node security as well as bandwidth if you run a busy store with lots of transactions.
Are you hosting on a VPS system? Security needs to be hardened, as well as enough resources deployed.
Are you connecting to your own lightning node to facilitate payments?
If so, is it installed and running?
If not your own node, are you using a service such as opennode or lnpay?
If connecting to your own lightning node, is it accessible via clearnet (www.mysite.com for example) or is it on tor onion site?
If on tor, do you have a VPS host so reverse tor proxy can be configured?
What system will be processing via btcpayserver or LNBits? ( WooCommerce, Shopify, etc)
Will you need this system configured for the btcpayserver connection?
These are many of the questions that will help us understand your business model to adequately provision a system for your needs.
As a business owner, you want to see what this Bitcoin thing is all about and want to integrate its payments into your infrastructure. Doing all of this can be daunting if you’re not tech-inclined or if you’ve got other tasks to manage. This is where MBC can help out.
Bitcoin is in the beginning stages of becoming a monetary standard, a store of value and a method of payment and exchange. This article won’t get into the details of why and how (plenty out there to get your information but I recommend reading Saifedean Ammous’ The Bitcoin Standard as a good first step), but will provide a few options of what to do in general to incorporate it in your business.
Bitcoin as a method of payment is built on two payment rails currently: 1)Bitcoin – the main chain and 2)Lightning Network – the 2nd layer. The Bitcoin layer makes up the blockchain (the public ledger) and records transaction every ten minutes on average and has a higher cost of transaction. The Lightning Network (a 2nd layer or subordinate layer to Bitcoin) is a faster and cheaper way to send transactions. Both layers have their benefits but I will focus on Lightning for the speed and the low cost of transactions for the remainder fo this article for business-use case.
Lightning Network payments are based on bitcoin but are transacted on the sub-layer 2 network. These transactions are “off-chain” and hence fast (completed and confirmed in a few seconds) and cheap (fractions of a % fees generally). Businesses integrate Bitcoin and Lightning Network payments together with various tools including BTCPayServer and LNBits. These tools have integrations to point of sale front-ends such as WooCommerce and BTCRetailX (our point of sale offering). It’s fascinating technology and it’s ready for commercial use.
Unless you have the bandwidth, managing a lightning node takes effort, energy and money. If you want to take on this roll, MBC can assist with the setup. It’s an honorable endeavor if you choose to go that route as you support the Lightning Network by doing so. You also have 3rd party options such as opennode to provide the lightning channel management on their side and just provide the proceeds back to you, along with their transaction fees (which is substantially cheaper than traditional credit cards).
MBC has the skills to install and manage your own nodes of bitcoin core and lightning network as well as integrating these payments into your legacy or new tech systems.