Guest post from Ronald Salmond, Senior Editor for Berminal.com

2018 has proven to be a remarkably difficult year for cryptocurrencies and it may seem there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for the bear market. However, according to numerous industry experts, the second half of the year shows that cryptocurrencies can go beyond just speculation, with partnerships and adoptions been on the rise. Many companies have found proper time to focus on building real-world applications based on blockchain and whole countries have moved forward to integrating the technology in municipal structures. At the same time several technological mergers and acquisitions have been announced with the list to “celebrate” the partnership between Stellar and IBM, the acquisition of Bittorent by TRON, and the release of LG blockchain services (it’s new platform Monachain).

All these examples remind us of true purpose of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology – providing secure and transparent transactions that give more financial power and freedom to the so called ‘little man’.
The “little man” is the productive foundation of the USA economy which powers growth, but it’s typical to be the one who is receiving an unfair percentage of fees from third parties including credit card issuance companies or virtual money processing services like PayPal. For people who work all day long, typically alone to cover their costs, are attracted by the concept of cryptocurrencies, which guarantees that the transaction costs remains only a tiny fraction of the payment, while they guarantee a more transparent, safe, and swift purchasing process for their customers.

Attracting new customers by accepting crypto-payments

While the industry outlets are overwhelmed by news on exponential partnerships taking place between traditional businesses and blockchain startups, it’s challenging how many of them will materialize? You can already pay for your flight tickets or hotel room with cryptocurrencies via providers including Cheapair.com, Expedia, and Brisbane Airport, while Starbucks and Microsoft have already integrated test-pilot projects to convert cryptocurrency to cash on spot. Of course, the innovation and adoption of cryptocurrencies is not limited to the retail sector, but is extended on the financial one. Until today, more than 121 banks have adopted Ripple’s xCurrent technology, which is being used to speed up cross border payments, while decreasing communication and project management costs.

With that said, the space is far from saturated and small businesses can easily grow their base and command additional market space by adding a cryptocurrency based payment system to their list of payment methods. In a recent survey, which took place in the United States, more than 39% of the respondents have clearly indicated that they want Bitcoin as payment method for their general purchases.

It’s free advertising

Taking into consideration that accepting cryptocurrencies opens the doors to a loyal network of consumers, who prefer to transact with crypto, it definitely leads to a great word of mouth free advertising for the businesses willing to accept digital money. Crypto projects are making any necessary effort to spread the news of partnerships and adoption as this further legitimises their progress.

Partnerships between the traditional business and cryptocurrency sector garner press coverage from media heavyweights. Take for example, last week’s story from Forbes, which highlights a new partnership between personalized website designer Wix and PumaPay. This partnership not only allows Wix to accept cryptocurrencies for it’s billing purposes, but unlocks a new world of opportunities for its customers who can now pay with crypto for their own websites.

Another partnership which has hit recently the news is the release of the first free crypto payment service GoByte Pay. The first payment with the use of it has been already made on vending machines iVend, and now can be installed on all of iVend’s point of sale processors. Such service may also unlock a market of more than 1,500 global clients and corporation services by iVend’s network.

What is more important for businesses examining the potential of accepting cryptocurrencies, is the most challenging crowd/audience for it’s brand- the millenials who are voting all in for cryptocurrencies. In a recent survey by LendEdu 38.46% of 18-24 years olds youth have responded positively that they have owned Bitcoin, while 32,54% of 25-34 yer-olds have owned or used bitcoin. With the increasing number of applications and institutional investors entering the cryptocurrencies markets, these numbers are expected to be increased significantly.

Personalized tokens – a new growth hacking tool for brands

From now small enterprises can reach new customers by developing their very own cryptocurrencies. This analytical guide from MetaMask is showcasing the easinesses of creating an ERC-20 standard token. Personalized tokens could be incorporated into a pre-existing customer bonus system that rewards shoppers for leaving reviews, making referrals or purchasing a particular item. Business operators are then free to accept their native token as currency for goods, as discount credits or even as part of a loyalty system for vip and repeat customers. The possibilities are literally endless and the ICO rush of 2016-17 serves as a fantastic example of how cryptocurrencies can be used.

small enterprises can always avoid the harness of distributing their own cryptocurrencies and guarantee the operating framework to set up wallets, by partnering with a crypto-startup that already offers this custom service or customer base. Take for example, iVend’s recent integration of GoByte Pay service into a vending machine.GoByte is a tried and true provider of lightning quick cryptocurrency payments that are secure, nearly fee-free and easily integrated into a SMBs point of sale infrastructure. Users within the GoByte Pay Network are not charged a fee for transactions and the only fee applied is on withdrawals to GoByte addresses that are not within the module, such as exchanges and local wallets. Fees vary based on the verification level required and typically is less than 3%.

At the moment, there is no shortage of viable cryptocurrency payment options small businesses could adopt. Dether, Bitpay, PumaPay and Crypterium are just a few, but what makes such solutions like GoByte unique is the opportunity for small businesses to operate a masternode for raising additional profit.

According to GoByte CEO, Hisyam Nasir, operating a masternode has multiple advantages, even when operated throughout a bear market such as the current one which has brutalized the cryptocurrency market for the last 10-months. Businesses operating a masternode may benefit from the following features:

Print coins and save on cost which has the potential of being more effective than hodling. Nasir says that, “running a node is great in a bear market, because you are printing new coins to offset downturns in price. This is much more effective than hodling depreciating coins that don’t offer rewards.”

Save on transaction fees if operating a business that used GoByte Pay to accept cryptocurrency payments. Merchants running a masternode do not pay for withdrawals, while those without masternodes pay 2% or 0.001 GBX.
Generate profit form supporting the network by receiving GBX tokens as compensation. These tokens can be held in
the hopes of appreciation or sold immediately on the open exchanges that list GBX.

Operate in an industry that is slated to grow to represent 46% of the global e-commerce market by 2021.
Speaking about the level of skill and effort required to operate a masternode, it can require a little bit of technical skill, but there are also masternode hosting services like Nodeshare, Appollon and Gin, which make the process much easier. Nasir also shared the plans of the company to further simplify the process for ordinary users and businesses “by releasing a simpler masternode hosting model”:

“We encourage small businesses and investors to visit https://masternodes.online/currencies/GBX/ as this is a fantastic way to learn more about running a masternode. Currently it is $849.19 and hosting can range from $1.21 to $5.00 per month. Alternatively, some people host from personal computers in their home.”

Crypto will put wind in small businesses sales

Even though crypto-payments are growing exponentially, we are still mile steps prior becoming widely accessible. In 2017, BitPay’s volume of bitcoin payments grew by 328% and rose to nearly $1 billion in transactions. Meanwhile, despite Litecoin’s poor performance from an investment standpoint, the cryptocurrency is accepted at more than nine payment processors which serve the customers of nearly 140,000 vendors and the rate of adoption continues to grow.

Until the recent statements, 60% of Square merchants claiming to prefer accepting Bitcoin over USD and 12% intends to proceed with acceptance of crypto payments within the next 12 months. A previous report published by Visual Capitalist has indicated that the number of brick-and-mortar shops accepting cryptocurrencies grew only in a year by 30.3 percent, which apart 11,300 retailers worldwide.

Another report demonstrated that 40% of survey participants who have ever heard about digital currencies were open to using them for daily transactions. In light of these facts, it is still rather difficult for one to spend cryptocurrencies at whim as slow transaction times and high transaction fees sometimes stand in the way of executing a purchase.

Investment factors to consider in 2018 – 2019

In a tectonic swift cryptocurrencies industry is transitioning in an era where news and speculation are still critical to break a profit on one’s cryptocurrency investment. Taking into consideration the rapid involvement of institutional investors in crypto projects it’s easily predictable that the weight will be measured on the utility of each project, the progress of partnerships and the wide adoption that will affect the prices during 2019. The global e-commerce and payment transitioning sector is among the sectors which we expect to notice this rapid growth with a lite forecast expecting the rise of revenues from e-commerce and mobile payment from $528.2 billion to $885.4 billion. Small and Medium Enterprises wisely considering to catch this wave and start accepting crypto as payment methods which can serve the new age of clients.

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