Bitcoin's place with restaurants
Do new technology and food mix?
According to 87 restaurants across the U.S., the answer is a resounding "yes." All of these 87 restaurants accept bitcoin, according to bitcoinrestaurants.net. Of course, this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the vast numbers of diners, fast food franchises and fast casual restaurants across the country. So, like any new technological tool, companies have to answer the question, "What benefit is there in utilizing this tool?" After all, simply because something is new and advanced does not mean it will work well with or for your business.
For some restaurants, the question of whether to adopt bitcoin or other virtual currencies is determined by customer demand. For example, Matias Caputi, founder of Argentina coffee shop BitCoffee, began to accept bitcoin after several customers requested that option.
"Since we started working with virtual money, we have had several customers pay that way and, on the marketing side, it was a hit," Caputi said in an interview with Fox News Latino. "We are getting a very good response from people, especially those between 15 and 45, who are most accustomed to using cellphones and interacting with ATMs."
David Ayyash's ChickPea in the D restaurant in Detroit began to accept bitcoin due to consumer demand as well. "If people ask for a new way to spend their money, we’ll be more than willing to attract them," Ayyash said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press.
Another benefit for restaurants is simply related to the bottom line. With a plastic-driven payment culture, companies have to deal with the unfortunate reality of credit card fees of up to 3 percent. "When you are dealing with a low margin, 3 percent is huge," Bitreserve VP of Product Byrne Reese said. "If you ask any merchant of any kind, would you if prefer cash or credit, they would always choose cash."
With bitcoin or other forms of virtual currency, businesses don't have to deal with these huge fees. "The advantage of digital currency is it retains the digital nature of credit cards while retaining the qualities of cash that make cash desirable," Reese said. For example, companies deal with a massive amount of credit card fraud every year, whereas with bitcoin there is less fraud.
On a customer experience level, Reese argues that virtual currency can improve the relationship between the service provider and customers. For example, in the case of the coffee shop Square, the company began to turn the POS kiosk around for the customer to give tips, they noticed a sharp increase in the amount of tips. By changing the traditional transaction model, you can change the relationship. For example, with mobile bitcoin payments, you could simply type in your order, pay for it, and then spend the rest of your time at the restaurant interacting with the employees.
Lastly, there is the question if restaurants gain anything from holding onto bitcoin. Reese argues this is not an issue, as most simply convert the virtual currency into dollars as soon as possible. "Merchants would accept bananas as an acceptable form of payment, as long as they convert it to dollars," Reese said. However, some restaurants are holding onto bitcoin. For example, Marx Zuccato, owner of the Bronx Deli, had held onto his bitcoins in the hopes that its value will continue to climb.
On a broader level, this issue of virtual currency acceptance for any business comes down to consumer demand and overall mainstream acceptance. If no one who works in or goes to the restaurant knows about bitcoin, no one will see a reason to add it as a payment option.
Image via Wikipedia Commons.
Bradley Cooper / Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.