Posted: Thu 2nd Nov 2017
For every bit of hype about a new technology, there is an equal or greater amount of skepticism and I think it's fair to say that Bitcoin has had its fair share of both in the last year or two.
But whatever camp you are in right now, let me help you move ever more in the right direction with five reasons why small business owners should care about Bitcoin.
I should add that, Bitcoin is yet to be explained in plain English by any human being so this is my attempt.
But I would encourage you to continue your research on the topic of Bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies and the technology which powers this phenomenon which is so exciting and yet so miss-understood.
On 3 January 2009, Bitcoin was introduced by an unknown someone (or a group of people) named Satoshi Nakamoto as an online currency with no centralised administrator or repository such as a bank.
As we go through this article, it will become more clear as to why this is very important.
Since 2009 it has slowly increased (and decreased) in value and is now higher than an ounce of gold and as of the time of writing is worth over £72bn! This is more than financial institutions Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Now, I don't say this to push you into throwing your life savings into a volatile and unregulated cryptocurrency. However, it would benefit you to know why Bitcoin and its sister network, Blockchain, is so important to small businesses.
It is how you will get paid
Considering the short and unpredictable history of Bitcoin's value, it is looking likely that cryptocurrencies are likely to become a normal trading currency like the pound, dollar, yen, euro etc. and the Bank of England along with some of the major investment banks have been looking at this for some time.
Entire countries like Sweden and Denmark are now moving into a completely cashless society, giving cryptocurrency like Bitcoin a real case for mainstream usage.
There are already over 100,000 merchants accepting Bitcoin as payment for products and services which allows them to leverage the increase in the value of Bitcoin against takings in their business.
A relatively good hedge to reinvest into your business which is why you can see Bitcoin being accepted as a form of payment by Microsoft, Bloomberg, Expedia, Virgin, Subway and Wordpress to name a few and it is rumoured that it will be accepted by Amazon in the very near future.
It is decentralised
These days everything has a 'middle man'; a payment processor, a bank, a broker, an agent.
Each time a transaction is made each person gets their cut of the transaction. Originally these were put there to give us a trusted place to go in order to trade, whether that's money, commodities or services.
Consider a world where these intermediaries were removed, also removing the added cost to the business or consumer and it's likely you will have questions about security, trust, technical aspects maybe?
What if I told you that you could be in complete control of your money as opposed to it being deposited into a bank for their own benefit and distribution? If you like that idea, you're going to love Bitcoin.
Bitcoin runs on a decentralised network. It is a completely decentralised currency means that you can instantly transfer any amount of money over a secure network for free (no fees) and the transaction is recorded in an anonymous ledger and cannot be intercepted by bankers or hackers alike.
You and your customer can enter into a trusted agreement to pay an amount for a product or service without the bank or payment service provider taking a fee.
It is a transaction based solely on trust. I don't know about you but I quite like the idea of doing business with someone I can trust.
Cryptocurrency is transferred over a network of other people who also own cryptocurrency. Think of it as a chain of blocks: you being a block and the chain being the network that links you; Blockchain.
It has been said that Blockchain technology is, in fact, the biggest advancement in our technological history and could be the one thing which replaces the internet itself. I'll let that sink in for a minute.
"Blockchain is the most overhyped, most misunderstood and most disruptive technologies in history."
That's right! The internet as we know it could be replaced.
So despite the larger institutions keeping quiet about Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is being tested by every major corporation in the world with tangible use cases in identity, credit scoring, currency and banking, asset tracking and property.
To give you an idea of Blockchain's security measures, if there are one million cryptocurrency wallets in the network, you would have to hack every single one, simultaneously in order to intercept a transaction.
That is virtually impossible meaning that Blockchain networks are the most secure ever created and the larger they get the more secure they are.
This is just the beginning
So while you were wondering if you were too late to the party with social media, the internet was being taken over by an unknown force.
By now if you still don't see the benefits of understanding Bitcoin and the technology which powers it, I fear you are in danger of being left behind as we enter the new industrial revolution.
I have been very fortunate to have met some of the most innovative companies in the world and seen the developments they are making in technology and science.
The kind of thing we won't accept into society for another 15-25 years and I can tell you that the future is bright only if you embrace it.
Cutting through the noise
You may still be wondering how this applies to your business.
Around half of small businesses in the UK still don't have a website, let alone accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Because of this most will dismiss or bypass an important message here.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of this country and our economy. We have the flexibility and independence to make decisions for the future sustainability of our livelihoods. The world is changing rapidly which creates a lot of noise.
Cutting through the noise is one of the biggest challenges for us small business owners because of the sheer amount of information accessible to us now.
Don't allow this to cloud the importance of futureproofing your business by learning all you can during Enterprise Nation's Go and Grow Online campaign.