The popularity of my guide to accepting Bitcoin Cash payments for your online store has made it even more clear to me just how much people want the bCommerce industry to grow.
I thought in this essay I could discuss some of the “growth challenges” that I see in the industry now along with some proposals for potential fixes that can be undertaken by individuals interested in participating in spreading bCommerce adoption and (potentially) making some money in the process.
This is not exhaustive or definitive any any sense — I might over-exaggerate some challenges and underestimate others — but here are the problems as I see them now. If you have any to add to this list or have reasons for why one is not actually and issue, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
The reputation of the obsolesced BTC chain
Roger Ver has pointed out, and I agree with him, that the BTC chain has delayed the adoption of Bitcoin by a number of years. 2017 was the first time we saw large numbers of businesses actually dropping Bitcoin as a payment option because it had become to unreliable and unprofitable. I don’t think it can be overstated just how much damage this did and I suspect it will be an uphill battle to win back the trust in these businesses that previously took years to earn.
I think we have reason to be optimistic though if the rapid rebuilding of wallets and infrastructure that the Bitcoin Cash industry has already accomplished are any indicator of future success, but it’s still important to be aware of this. People do not trust Bitcoin anymore. That will need to be changed.
Services like CoinText, Yours.org, BlockPress and the Bitcoin.com faucet are all helping tremendously with this by allowing people to get their first experience transacting with Bitcoin Cash. Businesses need opportunities to see that Bitcoin is reliable in commerce once again with Bitcoin Cash.
One easy win to fight against this is a series of short videos interviewing business owners and Bitcoin Cash users about their experiences in bCommerce. A “bCommerce Success Stories” page on a website is one way to showcase this. Shopify provides us with an interesting template to off which this can be based:
This could also be done in podcast form, interviewing business owners who take Bitcoin Cash as a payment method and asking them about how they grew their BCH customer base, what tools they use, and what their general experience has been using BCH in comparison to traditional credit cards and fiat.
Education and toxic Core culture
As Mike Hearn has pointed it, it was the Core community that killed the technology, and it’s that same community that has warped the reputation of Bitcoin in the eyes of the public. As they themselves say, it’s not really for commerce at all. It’s not for small purchases. “Just use fiat,” they’ve said for years.
It is difficult to win businesses acceptance as a payment method when the culture at large does not see Bitcoin as a payment method at all, but as some sort of stock or get-rich-quick scheme. In my conversations with business owners I know this to be true. The word “peer-to-peer digital cash” is hardly ever mentioned. They see Bitcoin as an investment vehicle at best.
People will need to be reeducated. Bitcoin is cash.
I think there’s a good deal of room for a site like bCommerceU.com which would be dedicated to rebuilding the reputation of Bitcoin as a digital cash system and to providing education and resources to business owners, small and large, to learn about Bitcoin Cash and how it can help grow their business. Shopify’s blog and resources and Startup School both provide interesting examples for a project like this to learn from:
CoinGeek’s bCommerce Conference and Jimmy Nyugen’s talks are great starts too and I think a lot of their message can be reproduced at a local level by average BCH users in business seminars, meetups, etc. People need to learn again that Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer cash system that is better for commerce than any government-backed money.
And if you can’t do it locally, a digital bCommerce Summit that is free to attend and brings in digital presenters and online store owners from around the world could be huge. Self Publishing School offers a solid, albeit cheesy, example of this:
Picture 30-40 bCommerce experts presenting digitally to thousands of businesses around the world about how they can use Bitcoin Cash.
There’s also a ton of money to be made by a handful of freelancers who want to go out and sell businesses on paying them to set up payment solutions on their sites. Travel By Bit appears to be doing well this for the old BTC chain. Don’t wait for businesses to come to you. Make the pitch, show them why it’s valuable as digital cash, and get them set up for a small fee that makes it worth your time.
Marketing and Discovery
As I see it, the problem of marketing and discovery comes in two forms:
a) Businesses that are new to cryptocurrency don’t understand how to properly market their acceptance to the community.
Many of them I’ve seen don’t even have it listed on their site anywhere and will set up payments and lose interest in Bitcoin Cash when they get no new orders. I’ve provided some steps that you can use to help business market themselves to the Bitcoin Cash world in my payments guide that were successful for Undertech Undercover, but that’s just a start. There will be a growing opportunity for people to create solutions that connect businesses that accept Bitcoin Cash with Bitcoin Cash users to help make it profitable.
I’ve love to see something like an AppSumo daily deals site for companies that accept Bitcoin Cash to offer discounted products to the community. I’ve found hundreds of interesting products through AppSumo and they’ve done wonders for upstart businesses in connecting them to a new customer base they could not have found on their own.
A Product Hunt for businesses that adopt Bitcoin Cash is another idea that interests me:
There are other potential projects that come to mind but as a general rule, don’t expect businesses to get orders in Bitcoin Cash simply because they add a payment solution. They need all the help they can get with promotion.
b) Businesses already in cryptocurrency tend to be bad at marketing in general both within and outside of the community.
It’s laughably bad. I have yet to visit a business in the industry that doesn’t have glaringly obvious marketing wins they aren’t taking. The simple solution here is that there need to be more marketers and salespeople at these businesses who can bring best practices from successful companies outside of Bitcoin Cash into the Bitcoin Cash space.
Don’t fall into the lie that the only people who matter in cryptocurrency are the developers. If you look at any startup, the number one role they’re hiring for are salespeople and customer service reps. They matter. Step up and create some opportunity for yourself because it’s everywhere right now and early actors will make a killing.
Bitcoin Cash is miles ahead of BTC and Lightning Network in terms of usability, but it’s still clunky or limited in certain ways compared to traditional payment mechanisms. Jimmy Nyugen answers this best so I encourage you to watch the section in the video below from his talk “A bComm World:”
I’m frankly not too concerned about this. We’ve seen the disastrous consequences created by bad user experiences and won’t make this mistake again.
Lack of incentive
Many of the companies I’ve spoken with that accept Bitcoin Cash payments do so out of ideology. That’s great for your early adopters but building an entire industry will require more than that. bCommerce needs to be a fundamentally profitable decision for companies to have the incentive to participate in it.
I’ve already written about some solutions to this above. Services that can do a great job connecting Bitcoin Cash users to companies and products can make a killing and help businesses profit in return by accepting BCH. Eventually we will reach a point in time where it’s just a “must” to accept Bitcoin Cash as a payment method much like it’s a “must” to have Visa or MasterCard. But we aren’t there yet. For the average online business now, Bitcoin Cash will only account for a small percentage of online sales. Anything that can be done to increase that percentage will help increase adoption on the whole.
I enjoy battling with Core as much as the next person and I’ll continue to do it here on this blog and on Twitter, but I think a good motto to follow is “criticize by creating.” You want a bCommerce world? Go build it.
Like this essay? You can support my Bitcoin Cash writing here.