After we started to accept Bitcoin in 2014 february we became curious what motivates other shopkeepers and service providers in Norway to turn their attention to Bitcoin. We interviewed everyone to share their experiences and expectations with the crypto-currency.
First a quick overview of the places that accepts Bitcoin in Norway:
Aktivisten kafé – a small cozy café in the hipster district of Oslo
Zodo/Viralvoi – marketing agency
Wish AS Opplevelsesgaver – Experience gifts
FixMyi – repairing service for Apple products
Host1 AS – webhosting and other IT services
Mediehuset Tek AS – a company making specific softwares
Justcoin.no – Scandianvian trading center to buy and sell Bitcoin itself
Iterate AS – that’s us
iPhix – repairing Apple and Samsung products
WAU – travel and technology agency
www.bitlasers.com – worldwide seller of handheld laser and laser-accessories.
Camping Dalen & Camping Dalen Shop: Listed as two in Coinmap, but in fact it’s one.
Ecoin – an inactive costumised map to list places where Bitcoin is accepted. Doesn’t function as a shop to buy products and services
Holiday House Nybergsund, Norway
Brattlia Økogård – Organic farm
Aktivisten Kafé in Oslo. They also accept Bitcoin. Photo Credit: Scott Cadman.
What motivates a business to accept Bitcoin?
If you happen to be a business owner you might find some inspirational thoughts among the answers:
“Bitcoin is between you and me and there is no bank in between. Same as cash. I don’t like that when you use cards everyone can see where you use it and what you buy with it. Also: accepting Bitcoin is much cheaper than having a payment terminal.”
“To be among the early adopters, test new payment methods and to offer “non-traceable” transactions.”
“We wanted to offer an additional payment service via the web that is not dependent on PayPal / VISA / MasterCard. This started as a test project that worked very well, thus resulting in that we decided to accept Bitcoin permanently.”
“At first bitcoin was the only form of payment we accepted. This was the time when very few had heard about bitcoin, so we wanted to “spread the word”, especially in this niche we do (hobby lasers). I believe we have succeeded, because the largest laser hobby store in the world and several of our suppliers of components have started accepting bitcoin too.”
“This could be the future way to pay, so why not try? One has to start somewhere.”
“One of our clients is a Bitcoin enthusiast and he insisted that it would be great if we accept it. So we decided to do so. No payments happened so far in Bitcoin, but it’s interesting to see where it takes us.”
“We see great advantages of a global currency for companies who do international business. It operates with low costs regarding transactions and integration, and payments are fast and easy. It’s also a new exciting market with many passionate users, and furthermore: it is a new platform that fosters a lot of innovation.”
“Bitcoin was implemented as open-source solution for clients and as a strategy to gain more visibility.”
“We love technology and we believe that the technology Bitcoin is based on has a future in the world of payment.”
Tl;DR: non-traceability, low operational costs, technical interest, client’s need, marketing value
How often do you have customers paying with Bitcoin? What percentage of your total income came from Bitcoin in the past 12 months?
Bitlasers established their business based on Bitcoin-only transactions, and by this they are the only ones who account significant income in Bitcoin.
One shop reported to receive less than 5% of their revenues in Bitcoin.
A third shop says that by the total turnover Bitcoin makes only an insignificant amount (less than 0.1%).
The rest of the shops either did not registered a single Bitcoin-payment or had very few low-volume payment in the last twelve months.
Timeline of shops opening up to accept Bitcoin.
What do you think about the future of Bitcoin?
All of the shops we asked see a bright future in Bitcoin payments. They state that the usability for online transactions is really good for and it is very suitable for small and medium-sized transactions. Some said that Bitcoin is more suitable for payment than credit card or cash. Some believe that when the price of Bitcoin stabilizes we will see an increase in transactions and we can expect a steady growth in the number of users.
“In the worst case Bitcoins will merge into to a similar but much better platform.”
Almost all of them mentioned however, that in order for Bitcoin to succeed we need more places that accepts it as payment, and more people to spend it.
“Bitcoin is an evolution in finance created by people like you and me, and just like the wildlife, the payment method that best suits prevail over those that don’t evolve with the changing times.”
Gitle Mikkelsen, Bitlasers
Meanwhile here is how every-day life people relate to Bitcoin
Although Hans Christian Holte, director general of taxation says that Bitcoin is not a currency, Scandianvia’s biggest Bitcoin exchange place Justcoin.no reached nearly 67 000 registered users since they opened in 2013 spring. This sounds like rapid growth, but it also means that only around 1% of population of Norway has bitcoin. (Norway has 5,136,700 inhabitants based on 2013 demographic data).
We did a research by interviewing randomly chosen people of all age in the streets of Oslo to find out more about Norwegians’ knowledge about Bitcoin and willingness in using it as payment. We also launched an online survey with the same questions, targeted to people living in Norway. It turned out that 46 % of the people have never even heard about Bitcoin.
“Unfortunately, it is currently almost exclusively used as object for speculation and not for buying and selling… For Bitcoin to succeed we need more places to accept it, but also consumers to use it. It will take time “
Robert Grinde – Wish AS
And I personally think it will take a LOT of time. While transferring Bitcoin online takes just as little as transferring any other currency through your net-bank, Bitcoin has some serious usability issues when it comes to point of sales payment. Paying for a coffee at a bar with cash or credit card takes around 10 seconds, but if you want to pay with Bitcoin it will literally take minutes as you have to do an online transfer and get verified by the seller.
But as we said in our previous post it is nevertheless a great fun to be with, experiment and watch where it will grow.