Payments in 2017: Why Small Businesses Need to Move with the Times

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As an entrepreneur, the one thing you can’t live without is capital. In fact, one of the driving forces behind any business, large or small, is money. Naturally, acquiring money and using it to your advantage isn’t easy; in fact, it’s the challenge of business. But, if you’ve done your research, know your market and, importantly, follow the latest business trends, you should be ok.

With 2016 throwing up some more interesting ideas in terms of the way small business can acquire, use and process money, we thought we’d look at how you can take some of these ideas and use them in 2017. From crowdfunding tactics to digital currency, 2016’s business trends seemed to open new doors for companies, so there’s no reason they couldn’t do the same for you this year.

The Way We Pay Goes Digital

Around since 2009 but becoming more of a mainstream commodity in 2016, Bitcoin is now the payment method of the masses. According to the Coindesk Price Index, the value of Bitcoin more than doubled in 2016 and, importantly, crossed the $800 value for the first time since 2014. At the start of 2016, a single Bitcoin was worth $358, but by December 21 it had increased to $829.

Why the sudden rise in value? Well, aside from Bitcoin’s inherent advantages, more mainstream companies have embraced the digital currency. One of the main benefits of Bitcoins is that it’s a universal, anonymous currency. This basically means that users can purchase goods/services from anywhere in the world and not have to worry about giving away their identity.

One company that’s been quick to take advantage of this dynamic is BitCasino. A relatively new player in the iGaming market, this company has decided to handle all of its operations in Bitcoin as one of its USPs. Unlike it peers, some of which may offer Bitcoin deposits but everything else in standard currencies like the USD, BitCasino players can deposit, play and withdraw in Bitcoin. This system provides an assurance that the majority of the transaction costs associated with banks and fiat currencies do not apply.

A System of Equality

The advantage of this is that everyone plays on an even footing i.e. players in different countries don’t have to worry about currency conversion charges. Moreover, with transactions being anonymous and irreversible, there’s an inherent security in Bitcoin that offers bettor’s bankroll a greater deal of protection.

Similar to BitCasino, other companies have also jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon in recent years. Sticking to gaming, Microsoft now allows Xbox Live players to purchase games, in-game credits and upgrades using Bitcoin. Beyond these businesses, British Airways, Expedia and even Virgin’s interstellar initiative Galactic can be paid for using Bitcoin.

With so many major brands accepting Bitcoin payments, its value should continue to increase. Moreover, this will make Bitcoin a more mainstream product and, therefore, more likely to be accepted by the average consumer.

Making Digital Payments Mobile

According to Business Insider’s (BI) Intelligence 2016 Payments Ecosystem report, 2016 was a watershed year for the industry. In summarizing the key findings of the report, BI noted that “payments companies are improving security, expanding their mobile offerings.” This has given small businesses more ways to process sales, even if they’re not aware of it.

In fact, as research by PayPal highlighted in 2016, 44% of small businesses (mainly retailers) have never carried out a review of their payment methods. Preferring to stick with systems that have been in place for years, the study suggests that many businesses are losing out on sales because they aren’t embracing new methods such as mobile payments.

Looking forward, it’s now becoming increasingly important for companies to accept mobile payments. Apple Pay and Android Pay have started to spread the “touch-and-pay” payment process, but there are other options out there. As explained by MobilePaymentsToday.com, personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s emerging products could seen make payments easier.

As well as having the ability to accept and process payments (both Amazon and Google have payment processing capabilities), these digital assistants could also suggest products to users based on previous purchases. Tapping into this “smart” market will be crucial for business in 2017.

Consumers Want Ease and Efficiency

With more ways to make virtual payments, the way we do business in 2017 will continue to change. From the currency we use to the way we use it, everything about the financial services industry is changing and if you don’t keep pace with these trends then you run the risk of getting left behind.

As we move through 2017, efficiency, security and accessibility will all be crucial in the payments sector and Bitcoin and mobile payments offer are just two ways businesses can satisfy these consumer demands.