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.

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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

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.

 

A lesson out of Argentina

This response to a question about bitcoin has been making the rounds, demonstrating an interesting perspective on the usefulness of bitcoin.

As the dollar value of bitcoin continues it’s current downward trend, it’s important to remember that the true value of cryptocurrencies comes not from the US$ gains of speculation but in the goal of providing an accessible means to transfer money regardless of where you are located.

Sick! Or how being housebound made me keen for the future.

Everyone is sick at the moment. Baby has recovered from his mild fever already (the benefits of still feeding) but the eldest has had a bad outbreak of impetigo and I have been feverish and weak all day. We got the eldest to the doctors for a round of oral antibiotics and between the cost of actually seeing  the doc and the cost of medicine, the bank account was cleared out. It occurred to me, as I sweated and moaned on the lounge, that if the supermarkets accepted bitcoin I could have had groceries ordered in.

That’s the thing about being house bound, for whatever reason, you suddenly realise how limiting traditional payment methods can be. With a nil balance on my debit account, the only other option for at-home spending was the credit card. Costly interest rates have made that my absolute last resort. In the end I got up and spent cash in-store, but I can tell you now I would have preferred to stay in my cocoon and pay online to have someone else deliver.

Every day it seems we get news of a new retailer accepting bitcoin. I look forward to the future when online payments are not controlled exclusively by credit cards and paypal. Greater choice in payment methods only benefits the consumer. Less choice only benefits Amex and co.

Bitcoin: the starting point.

The first coin on the scene was Bitcoin in 2009.

Bitcoin has experienced a few big waves and crashes, but like the rising tide each time the sea of support draws back, it reveals the water mark is a bit higher than before. Of course the first thing anyone will tell you when discussing an investment opportunity is that past performance is no indicator of future success, so looking at where Bitcoin has come from is interesting but shouldn’t sell you on the idea.

Although that can be tempting to think about, what should sell you on the idea is what Bitcoin is, not what it was or what it may become. The main thing for parents looking into crypto to consider right now should be how widespread the adoption of a coin is. Some other cryptocurrencies are doing very well, but bitcoin is still the most widely accepted coin. For a parent looking to crypto to protect credit card info or to serve as a fast, border-less payment method in buy and selling, that’s what matters most.

Bitcoin has been accepted as a form of payment form small businesses such as coffeeshops and artisan soap makers, as well as massive global operations such as overstock.com. If you want to take it “to the moon” literally, Virgin Galactic will do so in btc.

Setting up shop with bitcoin could be as easy as registering for a wallet at blockchain.info, then posting a donation button or link, or simply the wallet address, as an augment to your regular forms of payment. Not everyone will pay by bitcoin, but just making it an available option may bring you a customer that you might not have otherwise get. It costs nothing to put that link up, so why not try?

 

You might also consider a service provider such as bitpay or coinbase to help you smoothly integrate a payment system. In the coming weeks I hope to set up my own kid’s clothing store and will be posting about the process.

So if you are not yet an online seller but would like to find out more follow this blog and we can all learn together.

Once you’ve earned some coin you can either spend it elsewhere, whether online or in a physical store, use it to donate to a charity, send it to friends and family overseas or cash it out through exchanges or through advertised local markets.

There’s a lot more to cryptocurrency than just Bitcoin, but for most people it is the more accessible option and a great place to learn the basics with plenty of support. Next post I’ll be exploring Reddcoin and the concept of social currency.