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New Currency in Old Montreal

Op-ed - New Currency in Old Montreal

What happens when you approach business from a place of excitement and opportunity instead of fear and doubt?

You make more money, of course.

Over 140 Canadian businesses now accept bitcoin as a method of payment. And why would they not? The process is inexpensive, quick and exciting.

Being bitcoin-friendly is a win-win: it offers businesses access to a previously untapped market of eager consumers who excitedly arrive, purchase and pay with their bitcoin; consumers who also act as promotional agents for the forward thinking establishments. Consumers win by increasing their purchasing power to a larger number of bitcoin-friendly businesses. What is most exciting is knowing that we are beginning to use bitcoin to purchase products in real time, through traditional businesses, not just through e-commerce shops.

Over 50,000 businesses worldwide currently accept bitcoin, and this number is due to increase quickly as business owners expand their understanding of the myriad benefits this currency provides.

One such business in Quebec, Canada, sings bitcoin’s praises and sees the currency as the way of the future. Alain owns Montreal Poutine, a family restaurant by day and post-bar snack-stop by night. He decided to start accepting bitcoin as a method of payment just one week ago, after one of his waitresses urged him to look into it.

“I saw the speculative side of it, and I saw that this would reach ‘target customers’ who want to spend their money and don’t know where to go or how to do it,” Alain explains. He sees bitcoin as simply another way to accept payment. “In the world of business, if someone wants to give you money, you take it!”

Alain saw the benefits of bitcoin immediately: “When you have a customer eating and the guy next to him is jumping up and down over bitcoin, you know you’ve done something good.”

Alain uses the popular merchant service BitPay to accept payment from his customers. The process is incredibly simple.

“We have a big sign out front that tells people we accept bitcoin. When the customer is ready to pay, we bring over a laminated paper with our QR code on it. They scan it with their phone, type in the price of our poutine, send it to us and I get an e-mail wherever I am saying I have received a new payment in bitcoin.”

Unlike other payment methods like Visa, Debit, MasterCard and the notorious American Express, fees on accepting bitcoin are cheap: “one of the cheapest forms of accepting payment, besides cash,” says Alain. “I think the fee is 1. It’s incredible.”

It’s also instantaneous and irreversible, eliminating the possibility of chargebacks. Some businesses, like Australia-based Millennius, report declines in online fraud and increased purchase amounts when dealing with bitcoin as a method of payment.

Like many other bitcoin supporters, Alain sees the technology being implemented on a mass scale within 6 months to a year: “Six months ago when I asked my bank manager what Canadian bank would be the first to accept bitcoin, she laughed at me. But she didn’t laugh this time. Now she’s actually thinking about it… Maybe TD?”

Montreal Poutine has already completed 8 transactions with bitcoin and is looking for a way to implement an interactive machine into their business processes. For now, the laminated QR code does just fine: “Either way, it’s really good for me.”

It’s inevitable. More businesses will use bitcoin when they understand and experience the benefits of this incredible innovation. The bitcoin community has a unique position to educate and empower business owners in this exciting transition. Once the features, benefits and process of bitcoin are understood, they will adopt it. There is already talk in the Bitcoin Twittersphere about collaborating and creating pamphlets for business owners that explain and highlight the benefits of bitcoin. This should be pursued and executed; it’s our opportunity to change the world one business at a time.

For now, I look forward to discovering and reporting on more bitcoin-friendly businesses… and buying a delicious poutine with a few clicks on my phone.

The future is here. Businesses, get on board!

*Canadian Bitcoin Business Directory.