Setting up shop Part 2: Now accepting Bitcoin! And you can too.

Well I’ve made the jump. In my last post on the subject, I was looking for ways to ditch eBay and start my own store, accepting bitcoin.

And the winner is…

I ended up choosing Shopify. I had considered Square and, if I wasn’t in Australia I might well have gone with them. They have great products and services to support your business, but in the end they aren’t available to me in Oz so I went with their competitor.

On a side note, there’s a lesson there for those businesses who want to take the global-readiness of cryptocurrency and offer it as part of their business model: it’s no good thinking globally but only being available to businesses in one country or region. This is a problem relating back to bank payments though, so I really don’t hold it against Square which is why I would still tell you to check them out if you’re in America.

I also looked at etsy, but it didn’t have the cryptocurrency integration I was looking for. A blog-based shop was also an option, but required a bit more work in following up on payments and controlling stock.

Shopify has some fine points to recommend it:
1. It’s cheap. You can start small, like I am, with a $14/month plan and free themes to get a professional look on a hobbist’s budget.

2. It’s based on the wordpress platform, so if you are one of my fellow bloggers you will already be comfortable with the process. Even if you are not, check it out: it is much simpler than you think!

3. You will be delighted at how simple it is to integrate bitcoin payments. Bitpay is used, all you have to do is sign up for a Bitpay account, follow the prompts to direct funds to your wallet and then copy and paste the API on bitpay’s site into the form on the Shopify dashboard.

4. You can manage stock automatically. When entering the details of your product, you can elect to have shopify track stock for you, and even choose whether to stop or allow people to progress with checkout if stock has run out.

The Set Up Process.

I started from scratch, with no formal webdesign, marketing or business training and was able to get an operational store front up and running in under 2 days. That was including making my own logo, taking pics of my first stock item, writing copy and then putting all that onto the Shopify dashboard. In fact, all that work on my stock and branding is what took the most time. Getting it to work on the Shopify site was the fast part!

The best part is, so long as I can clear $140 worth of sales, I will already be ahead of eBay’s fees. And I can still accept all the payments I did on eBay (paypal & direct to bank account) but now I am ready to accept payment in the form of bitcoin.

This past week has seen some interesting talk about Paypal wanting to intergrate bitcoin payments. I say “too slow Pal!” There are plenty of people who have btc, who want to spend it, and who have been spending it without Paypal. I’m glad to be joining the growing number of legitimate businesses who welcome those bitcoin consumers.

It’s also worth asking why would I want to use a low transaction fee payment method, like bitcoin, through an escrow service that charges so much? It reeks of a cynical attempt to claw back business that they’ve lost to the cheaper competitor. Personally, I’m in bitcoin for the long term. What I earn in btc I will be keeping and spending in btc. And Paypal’s reluctant efforts to cover that market leaves me with no great feeling of good-will towards the payment giant.

It just reminds me of that old saying: “Too little, too late.”

If you’re in the market for kidswear, either for your own kids or as a gift to expectant friends and family, please check out my new store on Shopify: Mother Cunning.

Changes to Coinjar payment options: Hello BPay, Goodbye NAB

Coinjar has sent out an email today that announces a change in how they accept payments. The big news is that BPay is now being brought online, but don’t miss the forest for the trees on this news. They are also doing away with cash and direct deposits.

Aussie bitcoiners are probably familiar with coinjar.io as a way to buy and sell btc. If you’ve used there service before you’d know that they have previously accept payment over the counter in NAB branches and via direct deposit on accounts with accepted validation.

I’ve previously processed payments into their “filler”, which is then used to buy the bitcoins, via cash deposits and had only recently started to use the direct deposit option. While both were quite simple, it was miles easier to use the direct deposit. Just the usual problem of trying to get to a bank during business hours. BPay matches the convenience of direct deposit, using mobile or internet banking from anywhere.

The acceptance of BPay is no trouble to those of us happy to entrust coinjar with our identification, however some people have preferred to not verify ID and operate anonymously via cash deposits. It is bad news for those folks, because the BPay switch will require verification. To their credit, coinjar are working hard to fast track the ID process for those who need it, but those who don’t want it are out on their ears.

While the changes announced today will probably upset some people who were quite happy with the current system, the introduction of a new method of payment is pretty exciting and still fast, simple and secure.

Existing users are being urged to clear the coinjar deposit account info from their bank references because any funds accidentally sent will be irretrievable, to prepare for the change over that will take place 4PM (Melbourne) on Saturday 10th May.

While the email makes no mention of the reason for this significant change, it’s not too hard to put two and two together on the recent announcement by the National Australia Bank.

But take heart, crypto fans. While the NAB might not be interested in having your bitcoin business, coinjar and services like local bitcoins continue to trade in btc. Whether the big banks like it or not, the beat goes on for bitcoin.

Read the email for yourself and tell me what you think:

 

Hi CryptoMum,

As someone who has recently used Filler to deposit Australian dollars to CoinJar, we wanted to make sure you’re aware of an upcoming change and some steps you may need to take to prepare for the switch over.

Commencing this Saturday, 10 May we’ll be switching to BPAY for all Filler deposits. Using your BPAY Customer Reference Number and CoinJar’s Biller Code, you’ll be able to recharge your Filler in a few simple clicks from any mobile or internet banking app.

You may need to take a few steps to prepare for the switch over:

  • Verify your identity to use BPAY and Filler.  If you haven’t submitted your ID verification, you won’t be able to use Filler at all. We’ll be fast-tracking ID requests so please submit a support ticket if you experience any delay in your ID verification.
  • Delete saved references to CoinJar bank account details.  The bank accounts you use today with Filler will soon close. We encourage you to delete saved references to prevent accidental deposits to these accounts in the future. We won’t be able to assist you in retrieving deposits sent to these accounts once they’re closed.
  • Try out BPAY and plan your deposits.  CoinJar will no longer support over-the-counter cash deposits from 4:00 PM (Melbourne time) on Saturday, 10 May. We understand that, for those of you who have relied on cash deposits, this will present a challenge. We encourage you to try BPAY and contact our Customer Support team should you need help.

For all the details, and a Q&A forum, please take a look at our recent blog post, The Future of Filler.

CoinJar Customer Support Team,
Andrew, Adrian, Anne and Chris

Bitcoin Branches update.

I’ve been accepted for listing over on Bitcoin Branches and I couldn’t be more pleased.

These guys are trying to make a network of bitcoin-related websites. The goal is to have listings rated and reviewed so that you can look up a website and see how it’s been received by the community and maybe click through on some related links and so find new sites to spend, earn or discuss bitcoin.

The best part is: It’s FREE! So if you’d like to amplify your bitcoin-related website, visit their submission page and, while you’re at it, come check out and review my listing!

x M

Setting up shop: Part 1.

I’ve been selling second hand items, off and on, for a couple of years now. I’ve always used either eBay or their free-to-list version, Gumtree. What I don’t like about eBay is the fees. They have updated their fee schedule again, and now in addition to double dipping by  charging you a fee as eBay then again as their other company paypal, they want to assess their final valuation fee off the price of the item plus postage.

And here in Australia, that’s a killer. A regular post pack comes in sizes of upto 500g ($8) between up to 3kg ($13) or 5kg ($17). So 10% of those postage costs will now be coming out of your profits on the item sold.

This was after an unsuccessful attempt by eBay to get sellers to offer free postage (they claim this entices more buyers) but add the postage costs on to the item itself. A neat way to give them a bigger cut of the pie that obviously didn’t see the take up they desired because now they’ve changed their fee schedule to ensure that they do get paid a slice of that postage cost, whether you like it or not.

So on to gumtree which is fine but not without it’s problems. For one thing while it is free to list, you will be competing against other people who are paying to stay at the top of search results in categories. To stay at the top for 7 days costs $1.99 but if you really want to shine, the full service treatment costs $14.99, which is pretty unaffordable if you what you’re selling is worth less that $150.

Plus it is a much smaller market, more geared towards household items and furniture that would usually be pick-up only. As such, it’s not really a solution for those items you might sell on eBay seeking a larger audience reach. People searching on gumtree first select their region, so you are not really going to reach many people outside of your area unless they are really looking. Fine if you are holding a rare collectible I guess, but for regular items you are looking to sell quickly and easily, you may be disappointed as your listing slips further back in the search results without ever engaging with people outside of your region.

Additionally, gumtree is set price. There is no auctioning items to the highest bidder. I have recently sold a baby carrier designed for hiking. I thought my price was pretty good, but judging by the number of people contacting me after it sold, the market might have been able to pay a bit extra. If I’d been auctioning it off, I might have made more. Then again,if I’d gone the eBay route, maybe whatever I made would be eaten up by fees.

Lastly, I want to accept payments outside of paypal. Gumtree is almost entirely cash, which is fine, but it means strangers will come to your house to pick up. Staying at home with the baby, I don’t really want random strangers knowing my address. On eBay, I want to encourage people to not pay by paypal, but for a long time, offering paypal has been mandatory. Offering bitcoin payments has been a matter of adding wording to the ad itself and then you are on your own as to how to facilitate that. There is no smooth integration, like with paypal, I guess because eBay doesn’t get a cut of that. (Call me cynical, but that’s their racket, so of course they’re going to block and discourage alternate payment options.)

Thus I have come to the conclusion that eBay and gumtree are no longer viable ways to sell online for me. Additionally, I want to expand from just selling second hand items into crafting some original stuff and I think a proper shopfront is the way to go. To this end, I’ve been looking into etsy, shopify, square or running my own shopfront through a blog, like my buddy Drew over at cryptoparacord.

In my next post I will be detailing what each of these options offer to someone like me and hopefully encourage you to think about why you might choose one to start or expand your own business.

What about Reddcoin?

I found reddcoin last month while browsing the new links on reddit. Someone had made a post about a twitter tipping campaign, using this currency I’d not heard of. To be fair, at that point few people had.

In the past few weeks though, as a result of the twitter campaign and other tipping events on reddit, the number of people talking about and using reddcoin has grown. Evidence of that can be seen in the number of subscribers on r/reddcoin. From a little under 7000 users in March when I first came across it, to over 14,000 in April so far. In fact, we might even see 15,000 by tomorrow. That’s a lot of people who want to find out more about the plucky little altcoin that wants to be the tipping coin of choice.

When people have been tipped by these awareness-raising campaigns, a few questions keep recurring.

What is reddcoin? What makes it different to other cryptocurrencies?

The difference with reddcoin is that its primary purpose is not a currency intended for purchasing goods and services,. It is, first and foremost, meant for tipping in very small amounts.

Further, reddcoin is about more than just itself. It is about supporting and fostering a greater awareness of cryptocurrencies in general. What they are, how easy it can be to spend them, how many different sorts of people can find them useful. While other altcoins are pushing to be the new bitcoin, reddcoin is happy to work alongside other coins. It is purpose built for the goal of allowing people to cheaply try out how cryptocurrencies work.

So how can I get reddcoin and how can I spend it?

Well there is a link to various exchanges on the reddcoin page. Cryptsycoinedup, bittrex, and allcrypt offer RDD on their exchanges. If you want to spend the money, it is incredibly cheap to buy. At the risk of being outdated, the current price is about 5 satoshis. That’s 0.0000005 of a bitcoin. In fiat terms, we are talking fractions of cent.

And that right there is the genius – as the price of BTC rose, it became harder to make smaller payments accurately. The difference a zero or two makes could be costly. Reddcoin’s low value means that small amounts can be expressed as whole numbers, much easier for the lay person to comprehend intuitively.

Which brings me to spending. At the moment reddcoin is much more a coin to use for tipping than spending, but if you’ve made a really excellent post, or your twitter went viral and you find yourself rolling in the redd, my buddy Drew from Cryptocoin Chronicle has a website that sells paracord accessories (think keychains, lanyards and DIY kits) for redd and other coins.

Of course the best way to use reddcoin is to tip with it. Alongside the tipbots used on reddit, twitter and twitch, we now have reddcoin vouchers, enabling tipping on any platform.

Recently the reddcoin API was released as well. This means that developers can start implementing support for reddcoin and the ways to spend and earn reddcoin will only increase.

 

If you’re having trouble, hit me up on twitter @bunnymacey or checkout the Reddheads website.

spr14

Ebay adds a “virtual currency” section.

In a move that has astounded the altcoin community, Ebay has added a section for the sale of cryptocurrencies and mining contracts. Astounded, because this represents a complete reversal on policy as it has been enacted.

While this sounds like a great opportunity for the mum and dad investor to sell some coins (especially given the huge markups, for instance bitcoin being listed between $800 to a $1000 per btc, as opposed to current market value that is between $400 to $500) I would urge caution. Don’t be fooled into thinking that accepting the transaction fees on altcoin sales is the same as fully supporting cryptocurrencies.

It should be noted that there are many instances of people who have sold their coins on ebay only to lose both their coins and their paypal balance to fraudulent reversal scams.

The problem is that digital currencies are intangible. So long as a buyer can claim they never received anything, paypal will find in their favour. A work around might be the use of paper wallets sent by registered post, but it has been pointed out that many potential buyers will not feel comfortable with trusting a seller to forget those private keys. Additionally, it is very much like sending money in the mail – there will always be a risk of loss or theft. The larger the value involved, the less you will want to be sending it through the mail.

There is one way to clearly show that a transaction has occurred: the blockchain. A public ledger of transactions should be evidence enough that a person has recieved their coins. However, in practice this is not working out, as u/unclejessesmullet says in the discussion thread on r/bitcoin:

“Yep, happened to me. I sold on ebay several times, it usually worked out OK but on my biggest sale a guy ended up doing a chargeback after I sent the bitcoin. I provided both ebay and paypal with proof from blockchain that I sent the bitcoin to the address he gave me, but ebay and paypal both were completely useless and gave the guy his money back. Adding a category for bitcoin on ebay is just supporting scammers.”

and u/px403:

“Believe me, I spent hours trying to get them to understand that a transaction id on the blockchain was like a tracking number, but they didn’t go for it. Why would they? They provide a competing payment network.”

The blockchain is the receipt that sales on eBay need, so why do paypal and eBay not accept it as such? I hate to be cynical, but I think that it is because they simply do not care. So long as they get their cut of the final value fee, they are happy to accept your listing.

The worst mistake you could make would be assuming that this new category in any way represents eBay embracing cryptocurrencies. Seller protection still will not cover you for intangible goods and until there is an updated terms of service that includes intangible goods, you will be exposed to scammers.

It should also be noted that this is the third time eBay has added a crypto category. Each time it has been removed. People are also noting that the use of the term “virtual” currency, which is not standard nomenclature, demonstrates how lightly eBay has looked into this venture.

A lot of the mums I know got their first taste of e-commerce through eBay. It is very easy to set up an ad and do business. So I know a few of you will be tempted to try and sell through eBay, but for now I would have to urge caution. I know I won’t be selling any of my coins through eBay any time soon, but I really hope that one day it becomes possible.

If you could buy and sell coins through eBay, you would have a massive, stable exchange that the average man or woman would feel comfortable using. That could be a massive boost to the use of cryptocurrency! However that day is a long way off – until then, make sure you are always practising good security and if you do choose to sell through eBay consider selling only paper wallets sent via registered post. Remember, it’s not just buyer beware. Sellers must do their due diligence as well.

 

PiggyCoin Roadtest: Teaching Your Kids About Crypto.

piggycoin

This week I’ve been roadtesting a new cryptocurrency called PiggyCoin, a walled garden approach to teaching kids about cryptocurrency use.

I had originally had difficulty with the zip download for windows, but the good folks from their twitter account (@piggycoin) sorted me out with an alternate download. Their twitter is worth adding since they announce things like updates and are pretty active in general.

It is a two part system: a wallet to download (windows, mac or linux) and the website. As long as you have your wallet address written down exactly, kids could theoretically earn coins from anywhere. It is even easier at home:  one click to copy the address directly will get it right each time.

I sat beside my son so he could see what I was doing. The colourful site drew his attention. No easy task as he was busy watching t.v. and playing a game on my phone simultaneously. I tried to lure him in with an initial description on how he could earn money by answering a question. “You earn it in special coins,” I said, “Piggycoins!”

The word coin got him – he’s always looking to earn a coin or two for doing jobs. We had a go at the Piggy Facts question. Interestingly they use a picture based captcha which I really liked. It’s easier for the kiddo to correctly adjust a picture rather than the traditional text based captcha.

This turned into a trip to wikipedia to explain what a captcha is leading to a very philosophical discussion with the boy about the differences between people and robots. Turns out people have hearts! At this point a pop up told us that his 15 piggycoins had been deposited. He was delighted.

Then we tried the other item on the games page: a flappy bird clone, Flying Piggy. I lost my laptop at this point. Kiddo was totally sold on it, being a big flappy birds fan. We both remain scoreless though, so settle in -it’s addictive and hard!

I think a lot of parents are wanting their kids to grow up using computers in a way that is effortless. As such, schools are including things like word processing, digital photography and programming. One thing that we aren’t seeing taught is digital currency. Too often the first time kids get to know about digital money is  because they’ve bought a lot of in-game stuff from apps and they get a stern talking to about how it costs real money.

Cryptocurrency is going to be out there in their future, so I want them to understand how to use it and know intrinsically that it is real money, just made spendable online. Getting the point across that ‘intangible doesn’t mean imaginary’ doesn’t have to be the result of a mistake or a punishment situation. It can be a positive, fun experience. PiggyCoin neatly facilitates this in a way that is very easy to use, with a website that offers plenty of help and activities.

The site has a spending page which is currently under construction. I can’t wait to show my son how easy it can be to spend the money he’s earnt, but for now it’s a lesson in saving. F.Y.I. Piggycoin is also listed on poloniexswisscextcx.lanxt-eBTC-CC and coin-swap exchanges so parents can buy more PIG to reward chores or deposit pocket money into their kid’s wallet.

Overall I was very impressed with PiggyCoin. It really hit the mark in terms of being an educational and fun activity to teach kids about the use of cryptocurrency. It is still very new though, so the interesting thing will be seeing what other games are added and what will be on sale in the shop.