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Integrating Cryptocurrency Into Your E-Commerce Website

CryptoAs the internet continues to evolve, e-commerce websites need to adapt to changes to the digital landscape in order to remain relevant and competitive. One of the biggest growing developments is the emergence of cryptocurrency – a new all-digital asset – that has been increasing in popularity; many crypto enthusiasts naturally want to use this digital currency to make purchases online, and this has created a demand for more online marketplaces to accept crypto as an accepted payment.

However, that’s often easier said than done. While anyone running a successful e-commerce site is obviously well aware of how traditional payment processors like Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal operate, these payment methods still use traditional currencies. Here’s what you need to know about cryptocurrencies, which ones are the most appropriate for integrating into an e-commerce website, and how to go about doing so.

Narrowing the Playing – and Paying – Field

It’s simply not practical to set your e-commerce site up to accept more than one or two cryptocurrencies. This is to be expected – there are more than 1000 of these digital coins being traded actively around the globe – so it behooves you to make an important choice: which cryptocurrency do you want to support?

First and foremost, you should put Bitcoin in the running as your first choice. The oldest and most well-known digital coin, Bitcoin is also the runaway favorite for many cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It’s also the most highly-valued, as even after the massive price corrections the coin underwent in late 2017 and early 2018, a single Bitcoin is still worth more than $10,000.

Choosing just one cryptocurrency is usually more than enough for a typical e-commerce site. There are other contenders out there as far as popular coins – Ethereum being the first runner-up in this instance – but because of Bitcoin’s market penetration, choosing the great grandaddy of them all as your target cryptocurrency is likely your best choice.

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

There are many ways to integrate a cryptocurrency payment option, and they range from third-party providers that handle every aspect for you, website plugins designed to work with specific e-commerce platforms, or setting up an independent do-it-yourself option. There are benefits and drawbacks for every method, listed below:

1. The Do-It-Yourself Method

This method provides you the most control but is not for the faint of heart. It involves downloading a piece of software called a “digital wallet” for the cryptocurrency of your choice. This will be, ultimately, where any cryptocurrency paid to you will end up; as this will most likely be Bitcoin, you have a large selection of wallets to choose from.

Next, you’ll need to set up an account on a cryptocurrency exchange site, as this will allow you to trade the Bitcoin you accumulate into a different currency – such as US dollars – that you can then transfer elsewhere. There are literally dozens of exchanges, and some even support automated trading, which means you could ostensibly take your Bitcoin earnings and attempt to maximize them; if this is of interest to you, this list of top cryptocurrency trading robots may be of use. However, this is a rather advanced technique.

Finally, you will need to generate several “addresses” from your Bitcoin wallet to provide to customers who want to use Bitcoin to purchase your products and services. The customer sends the Bitcoin to your wallet address, you send that Bitcoin to an exchange, and then you trade it for USD and transfer it to a traditional bank account. It’s cumbersome, but again, this affords you the highest levels of control.

2. The Plugin Method

If you don’t want to fiddle with fine-tuning your website to accept Bitcoin, you can often use a custom-made plugin to handle the more esoteric functions. There are plugins for many web platforms like WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento, so odds are that you’ll be able to find one that accommodates your needs.

However, be aware that even with a plugin doing the dirty work, you’ll still need to have both a wallet to collect the cryptocurrency customers pay you. Also, you’ll need to transfer these digital coins to an exchange to turn them into a more easily used “real world” currency if needed.

3. The Third-Party Method

While this method does relieve you of many of the burdens of the ones detailed above, it also means that you’re at the mercy of one of these third-party providers when it comes to the types of services they provide and what types of fees they may charge for the privilege.

Third-party providers do almost all the work for you. They offer payment processing integration with your website, house your Bitcoin in their own mobile wallet, and also act as an exchange, allowing you to transfer that Bitcoin into a bank account of your choosing. The two biggest and most well-known of these providers, BitPay and Coinbase, are both excellent choices as one-stop solutions; BitPay is exclusively for Bitcoin, while Coinbase supports a handful of additional cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.

A Few Caveats

Before you jump in with both feet, there are a few things to think about. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer benefits such as high security, transparency, and speed, they do exist in a legal grey area because they’re not regulated by any central authority. This has led to attempts to regulate them for businesses that are based within specific countries; in some regions, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Algeria for example, using Bitcoin is banned. It’s best to check your country for any legal issues before integrating.

Additionally, while Bitcoin is becoming increasingly adopted, its popularity has led to some additional mechanical issues. The blockchain network that acts as Bitcoin’s backbone can sometimes get overwhelmed when demand spikes, and this has resulted in some instances of slower-than-normal transfers – as well as temporarily inflated processing fees. While work is being done to rectify these issues, it is something to be aware of; other, less popular cryptocurrencies might not be as widely adopted, but they are also less likely to suffer from these periodic issues.

The Currency of the Future

Despite the issues that cryptocurrencies currently face, these problems are not likely to persist for any length of time. Once these challenges are overcome, it’s likely that integrating cryptocurrencies will become a popular option to pursue for e-commerce sites that want to remain competitive. Adopting these digital currencies today – or at least designing a strategy for your own e-commerce site – is an excellent way to future-proof your business.

 

Author:

Catherine Tims is the owner of  Ivy League Content . After receiving her Master’s degree in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Arizona, she taught writing to graduate students at the University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana. She has her own writing business, Ivy League Content, and freelances full time for business clients who need highly-researched articles.

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