The American software company behind incredibly popular services like TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint.com, and many more announced this week that they’re hopping aboard the bitcoin train.
In a post on the Lab Experiments section of the company’s website, Intuit announced a new service aptly named QuickBook Bitcoin Payments — a new service that will allow businesses to accept bitcoins without ever having to create a bitcoin wallet or handle the bitcoins directly.
“Small businesses just want to get paid. Cash is troublesome to keep track of, checks have lots of friction (writing, mailing, depositing) and card transactions have high fees,” the company wrote.
“Our team is constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of our customers. During incubation week, we experimented with bitcoin to solve the aforementioned pains associated with getting paid.”
“We came up with an innovative way to enable small businesses to accept bitcoin payments without any risk or a bitcoin wallet. We’re still testing our bitcoin service.”
Intuit is encouraging prospective users to sign up for the beta waiting list [here].
The problem for businesses
Intuit says there are two main factors that prevent businesses from accepting bitcoin.
The first, they list, is the fear of creating a bitcoin wallet — thanks in part to disgraced bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which collapsed earlier this year.
“With recent news about Mt. Gox in the media, trusting a third party bitcoin wallet provider can be scary,” they write.
The second reason listed is the aspect of bitcoin’s notorious price volatility.
“When it comes to their revenue, small businesses just want to deal with dollars.”
Intuit is touting the QuickBooks Bitcoin Payments as a means for businesses to only see dollars when accepting bitcoin, not having to deal with chargebacks, and not having to deal with high fees set by traditional payment networks.
A big deal or not?
While it’s notable and interesting that a multi-billion dollar company is setting their sights on digital currency, many in the community — particularly early adopters — would argue that Intuit’s approach is nothing more than an attempt to join the bitcoin hype train.
Bitcoin’s features benefit merchants most — so why should a service that simply converts the bitcoins into dollars impress us?
What would be more impressive would be a service that allows merchants to easily handle and manage bitcoin funds (as opposed to creating a service that essentially accepts and eliminates the bitcoin factor almost immediately), that way they could spend them (perhaps even in the supply chain).
That would truly create help establish an ecosystem independent of today’s financial system.
What do you think?