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Online retailers be warned: Brits don’t trust Bitcoin

24th Apr 2014
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So much confusion surrounds digital cryptocurrencies, that in recent months it’s been difficult to look beyond the news stories about vastly fluctuating trading prices and exchanges being hacked and having their currency wiped from existence.

However, recent reports suggest cryptocurrencies might now be turning a corner, especially the globe’s leading digital currency, Bitcoin, which is reportedly stabilising as it matures and increases its user-base, in the process gaining more and more interest from investment banks and businesses sensing an opportunity.

And now mobile payments providers including Square and Stripe are in beta testing with a view to accepting the virtual currency at some point this year, raising questions from online retailers about whether they should themselves put processes in place to allow for digital currency transactions.

So should they? Not in the UK just yet, according to Venda. The digital commerce solutions provider recently ran a survey to ascertain British consumer views on digital currencies, and found that at present, incorporating digital currency transactions into online payment options could do UK retailers more harm than good.

The concern for most people is trust. Brits are seemingly a cynical bunch. 71% of people state they don’t want the option to pay with digital currencies, while 43% say they do not trust cryptocurrencies at all, with 24% concerned that the currencies are unstable and would be too much of a risk to make payments with.

In contrast, one of the main issues related to using currencies such as Bitcoin, Peercoin and even Dogecoin is a lack of understanding about how they work. Almost half of Venda’s survey respondents admitted they don’t fully get what was involved in using digital currencies, and despite a number of reports bringing clarity to the purpose of using Bitcoin and co, nagging problems still exist in terms of the buying and selling of the currency, which further blurs consumer understanding.  

“The prospect of new crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin, adds a new meaning to ‘alternative’ ways for consumers to pay for their goods, whether online or in-store,” says Eric Abensur, Group CEO, Venda. “Much has been said about these new currencies over the last 12 months, but their growth in media speculation makes them a difficult trend to ignore.”

“However, our research warns of a fundamental mistrust of Bitcoin and need for more education on how these virtual currencies actually work if they are to truly take off. A time may come where consumers can pay in-store using Bitcoin, but for now the fact that the price of a Bitcoin is in constant flux means that it’s simply not a viable way for businesses to take money for products. Even those that are currently taking payment by Bitcoin for products or services are, by and large, converting that to a standard currency for safe keeping and further use.”    

Those who do trust Bitcoin and believe it offers a future for making transactions cited the anonymity it offered as its chief benefit. Consumers also suggest that discounts for using virtual currencies might coax them into using them, while not having to carry cash and the related security benefits were also seen as positive reasons for their use.  

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