There are a growing number of services that allow and assist merchants in accepting cryptocurrency payments, but all you really need is a digital wallet.
That’s what Ruben Borukhov, owner of East Village Barbershop in New York found when he decided to start accepting bitcoin as he reopened his business as the 2020 spring COVID-19 lockdown ended.
But he didn’t go to great lengths to make it happen. All he did, Borukhov recalls, is print out a “Bitcoin accepted” sign for the window and open a Coinbase wallet with the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.
“That was the only marketing I did,” Borukhov said. “I put the sign in the window about two years ago and after that people started talking about it, asking me about it, taking pictures, saying ‘Wow, this is the first barbershop that I’ve seen that is taking crypto, do you take any other crypto other than bitcoin?’ I’d say I take any crypto.”
While he does have it on his social media now, Borukhov said that a lot of the people who come in say they saw that he accepts crypto in reviews customers read online.
Just a day earlier, Borukhov said he was talking about crypto, and another customer came up and said, “If not for that sign I would’ve never walked in. That’s the reason I come here; because you do accept that.”
That matches what PYMNTS found in its 2022 U.S. Crypto Consumer study, which found that 23% of Americans own or owned crypto in the past 12 months and that many said they would go out of their way to do business with a company that accepts crypto payments.
About 27% of those respondents said they “definitely” or “probably” prefer to do business with merchants who accept crypto — a number that climbed above one-third for millennials. And broken down by income demographics, 27% of crypto owners say they are “extremely” or “very” likely to switch to a merchant that takes crypto payments.
Between that sign and when people see others paying in cryptocurrencies, he said, the conversations it has started in his shop made him realize “just how much my customers actually hold crypto — it’s a large percent of the young generation.”
And while New York’s pricey, popular, youth-centric East Village isn’t the most representative of neighborhoods, Borukhov said he’d guess half of his younger customers own crypto “and 80% want to talk about it.” Some are a bit skeptical, he adds, but many are interested.
Beyond that, over the past two years, Borukhov said, people just come in to ask about the bitcoin sign, with the most common crypto payments being made in bitcoin and ethereum, unsurprisingly.
“It’s brought, not a lot but a good number” of clients, Borukhov said. Not all are paying customers in need of a haircut when they come in, he added. “But it’s getting them in the door.”
Unlike many merchants who take crypto payments by working with payments processors which allow people to pay at the point of sale with crypto while giving the merchants dollars, Borukhov said he keeps the crypto he is paid.
“For now I just hold it, I’m a believer in bitcoin,” he said.
The payments process is fairly simple, Borukhov added, comparing it to paying with Venmo. “For the younger generation, it’s easier than cash,” he said. “They just take out their phone, click, click, they’re done.”
A couple of customers took their first steps into crypto at his shop, he said.
“They would set up their account on Coinbase there and then and transfer the money from their bank account to buy bitcoin to send it to me.”
That said, the finality problem of bitcoin, ether and other cryptos comes into play, he said, noting that crypto payment can involve waiting around five to 10 minutes.
Sometimes they hang around chatting about crypto, Borukhov said. Others pay as the haircut starts or even a few minutes before they arrive.
Others don’t pay, but tip via bitcoin, he said. “Then, I don’t care, they send to me in 10, 20, 30 minutes when they get home.”
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