There’s a ton of retailers out there accepting bitcoin now. But if they all have one thing in common it’s that customers paying with bitcoin are few and far between.
Such is the case with British retail company Ink Factory, an online store that sells printer cartridges (and has accepted bitcoin since November 2013). The company says that the role of bitcoin in retail is overstated — adding that bitcoin and the blockchain has a “great future” — just not on the payments front.
“In just over six months, the number of orders paid with Bitcoin has not reached three-figures and our largest order in that time was less than 1 BTC (one Bitcoin),” wrote company Managing Director Tom Johnson in a recent blog post.
“Typically, customers paying with Bitcoin buy toner cartridges and tell us they are experimenting with using Bitcoin as a payment method,” he added.
“Experimenting with new technology is always fun, and we’re grateful for the extra business Bitcoin has brought us, but experimentation is not enough for the long-term.”
Johnson proposes that retailers find ways to make people use bitcoin if they want to benefit from the digital currency’s features (few if any fees, no chargebacks, etc):
“In the absence of a compelling reason for consumers to acquire and spend Bitcoin, retailers might need to find ways to incentivise the use of Bitcoin if the benefits it brings are truly valuable enough to do so.”
“I’m not convinced that Bitcoin is the payment method of the future for retailers,” Johnson says. “But Bitcoin is still in its infancy. In June 2014 it’s true to say that most people haven’t heard of Bitcoin, and we have no plans to stop accepting it as a payment method whilst we have even a few customers wanting to pay with it.”
The company is giving away ten 1/10ths of bitcoin (worth about £40) to customers (which is conveniently enough to purchase a toner cartridge) to see how customers would react to holding and using bitcoin. The move was inspired by recent news of all MIT undergraduates receiving $100 worth of free bitcoin.