Do You Take Bitcoin?

March 8th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Digital Business in 2022 and Beyond

By Chris Collier

You polish off your fish and chips at one of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’s 30-plus locations. It’s time to pick up the tab and you’re buying for the whole booth. Your pockets are free of metal coins and your wallet is bare of crumpled bills. The server approaches the table with a BitPay invoice QR code that you scan to make payment. Digital Bitcoins flow from your phone into the restaurant’s pocket. This is a dining experience that Tilman Fertitta is working to make reality. Fertitta is CEO of Landry’s, which owns a number of restaurant chains, including Morton’s The Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Mastro’s.

Accelerating Trends

Ten Mastro’s locations—an upscale Landry’s restaurant—accept Bitcoin. That tally follows an announcement by Fertitta in April 2021 that most of his restaurant brands would accept this form of payment.

But Fertitta isn’t the only Bitcoin believer out there; its relevance is rising and goes well beyond restaurants. Microsoft has allowed gamers to purchase Xbox store cards with the digitized payment method since 2014 and do-it-yourself homeowners can spend the currency at Home Depot. Meanwhile, in June 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott amended the state’s Business and Commerce Code to recognize cryptocurrencies, defining a “virtual currency as a digital representation of value that is not legal tender and is used as a medium of exchange or a store of value.” In September 2021, El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a national currency.

Cryptocurrency, or ‘crypto,’ as many refer to it, is climbing its way into the modern day—transforming what is seemingly futuristic into conventional reality. The world of Bitcoin, along with other digital currencies, such as Ethereum and Dogecoin, is facilitated and expanded by society’s contactless trends. But what does it mean for door and window companies?

The Basics

Cryptocurrency is a payment type that can be exchanged online for goods and services, according to personal finance company NerdWallet. Many cryptocurrencies function using blockchain, a decentralized technology spread across computers that manages and records transactions. The currency is nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend because it is secured by cryptography, according to Investopedia, a financial website that provides investment dictionaries, advice, reviews and ratings.

Bitcoin was the first crypto to hit the market when it launched on January 3, 2009. More than 16,600 different cryptocurrencies are being traded publicly in 2022, according to CoinMarketCap, a web service that provides aggregated cryptocurrency market data. Bitcoin remains the most widely used, per the market research site.

But how does one buy—or invest in—crypto? It starts with picking a crypto exchange or broker, according to Forbes Advisor, a platform built to help consumers make financial choices. A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where the currency can be traded among buyers and sellers. Coinbase, Gemini and Binance.US, are all cryptocurrency exchanges.

Forbes Advisor says cryptocurrency brokers take the complexity out of purchasing crypto, “offering easy-to-use interfaces that interact with exchanges for you.” Two of the most notable crypto brokers include Robinhood and SoFi—names that might ring a bell.

Where can crypto investors spend their hard-earned Dogecoin? According to CO, a digital platform from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small businesses can use BitPay and CoinBase Commerce for payment. BitPay and CoinBase Commerce are crypto payment gateways for online transactions that help companies accept payments in cryptocurrencies, according to Entrepreneur, a magazine and website covering entrepreneurship, small business management and business. CO says that these processors typically offer a 1% or less transaction fee. “After selling to your Coinbase fiat wallet, you can opt to either cash out funds to your U.S. bank account or repurchase cryptocurrency on the platform,” says Coinbase’s website.

Cryptocurrency may facilitate payment, but it’s not a currency in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), according to Intuit’s TurboTax, a software package for preparation of American income tax returns. Per IRS Notice 2014-21, the IRS classifies cryptocurrency as property, and capital gains and losses should be reported on Schedule D and Form 8949 if necessary.

All Digital

When it comes to consumer preferences, around 47% of consumers say they will not shop at a store that doesn’t offer a contactless payment method, according to Visa’s 2021 Back to Business Study. The same study also shows that 44% of small businesses believe contactless, or other mobile payment acceptance, is a critical area for investment. A poll conducted by Mastercard shows that just over half of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment, which includes tap-to-go credit cards and mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. A report by analyst firm eMarketer says contactless mobile payments will surpass half of all U.S. smartphone users by 2025.

In the meantime, while digital currencies might not be widely accepted by door and window companies, many are now meeting their consumers halfway, bringing several payment options to the table. From Apple Pay to Venmo, to PayPal and Google Pay, there are several digital methods for payment being used throughout the industry. EntryPoint Doors and Windows in Buford, Ga., adopted Podium before the arrival of COVID-19. The system provides contactless text-to-pay options built for social distancing. Owner Paul Butler says the platform allows his company to
collect payment for entry door replacement, window replacement and decorative door glass—all without even talking to the customer.

COVID-19’s arrival in 2020 altered customer interactions swiftly, but officials for Mountain View Window and Door in Denver, Colo., say they were prepared for contactless methods of payment. “We saw cash used a lot less, even before COVID-19,” says marketing director Scott Hicken. “We’ve had a digital portal where people can pay online for many years. That shift to digital payment methods came prior to the pandemic. I would say it’s continued to be about the same as it was before COVID-19 because we already had such a high amount of people paying digitally,” he adds.

Others see a continuation of traditional methods for payment, even amid the pandemic. Accepted payment options for Mountain View Window and Door include credits cards, checks and cash. Many of its business transactions are digitized, but Hicken doesn’t see cash usage dropping to zero.

“There’s an in-person element,” Hicken says. “When clients come pick up the windows and doors, for example. Sometimes we’re delivering to the job site where we do an install project. But sometimes they’re coming to pick them up from our warehouse … Our client base is the contractor more than anything—more than homeowners. I think there’s always going to be that old school contractor that wants to pay in cash, at least for the next five to 10 years.”

The Future Is Now

Payment trends are evolving. For example, cash wasn’t an option at the 2021 Super Bowl—a historical first. Companies like Apple, Venmo and Paypal hold market share today, but crypto could very well rule tomorrow. Or they could share the throne. Coinbase Visa debit cards will now work with Apple Pay and Google Pay, per a June 2021 announcement. But how is cryptography meshing with the door and window industry?

Digital currency isn’t in the cards for some companies, including Greg Ramel, president of Window Concepts of Minnesota Inc. in Saint Paul, Minn. “We’re not accepting it,” Ramel says. “There’s too many variables there. We haven’t even had a customer that’s asked if we’ve accepted it.” Jeff Weaver, president of Clarkston Window and Door in Pontiac, Mich., is personally invested in a small amount of cryptocurrency, but his business doesn’t currently accept it.

Ryan Houchen falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. As the sales team leader at Southwest Exteriors in San Antonio, Houchen has yet to invest in digital currencies. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t open to relying on them for business.

Hicken, who has been tinkering with cryptocurrency since 2020, says, “I think it’s at the stage where a lot of people are finding out about it and experimenting with it.” With investments in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin, he views industry implementation as a future development.

“I think the implementation of crypto is going to start in other industries that [include] simple purchases—maybe retail,” Hicken says. “I think it will be a while before crypto is a payment method that construction really would use.”

Crypto isn’t currently on the table for Ramel’s company either, but, “I could see it eventually becoming a viable thing,” he says. “Things are going to change. Maybe at some point, there is no cash anymore.”

Coins in Command

The five biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap
Cryptocurrency Market Capitalization
(1)—Bitcoin: $794 billion plus
(2)—Ethereum: $380 billion plus
(3)—Tether: $78 billion plus
(4)—Binance: Coin $75 billion plus
(5)—Solana: $43 billion plus

Dollars Defined

Legal tender (noun): Money that is legally valid for the payment of debts and must be accepted for that purpose when offered.
Cryptocurrency (noun): Any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions.
Blockchain (noun): A digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.

Source: All definitions courtesy of the dictionary by Merriam-Webster.

Chris Collier is a contributing editor for Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine.

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