Banking on the Future
Merchants already bracing for digital currency massification
The key to prolonged business success has always been to stay ahead of the curve, to provide convenience and service quality, aspects which are slowly being swallowed by the digital sphere.
Philip Sedgwick and Juan Martin Grisales have two things in common: they’re both business owners and they both see digital currency as the future and therefore have taken measures to accept as payment all of the top digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Steem, Smartcoins and others.
Sedgwick is the owner and operator at the Wirtshaus am Bavariapark beer garden in Munich while Grisales is CEO at Living Group, an organization composed of three companies collectively engaged in international tourism.
Another catching similarity is both businessmen serve an international client- or customer-base and thus a hedge toward digital currency adoption appears to them a good bet for the future, even if the current return is yet to be seen in this early stage of the digital payments evolution.
Confirming their belief in the future of digital currency, Susan Athey, Stanford Economics and Technology professor, labelled the technology as nothing short of revolutionary, further stating in her article published by the World Economic Forum in 2015, that the technology will allow, “people or institutions to transfer funds instantly, securely and without a middleman.”
From programmable money to new forms of e-commerce, Athey wrote, digital currency has the capacity to alter the world, providing a faster and cheaper method of money transfer and of payment.
Further, Athey discussed how the technology helps include a previously unbanked proportion of the world’s population to access banking services they previously — or same cases, currently — cannot.
But even more generally, digital currency — its form and use — has the potential to unleash greater power over e-commerce, stated Athey.
The vision is vivid; execution is upon us.
“I’ve always been very much a fan of new ideas, for my kitchens, for cooking techniques, for equipment, Sedgwick said. “And Bitcoin I smile about it, of course, because that is the future, whether people like it or not.”
Speed is paramount, said the beer garden operator, who recently served Munich’s Bitcoin Club of around 50 members using BitShares Munich’s BlockPay point-of-sale (POS) system, a free-to-download platform capable of integrating into an existing merchant’s POS system, or standalone. BlockPay is a coin-agnostic system which means all top digital currencies — and even user-issued assets — can be accepted.
Sedgwick said, “[They] all used cell phones to pay with Bitcoin and it went really, really well”. Just two of the near 50 members had their transaction take some minutes to complete, according to the beer garden operator.
“If you have warm food and a beer … [that] can be a nightmare,” said Sedgwick, but he was steadfast that a variety of payment methods was most important in the current, global marketplace.
“Munich is a very small city but it has so many international exhibitions like Oktoberfest,” said Sedgwick, adding that such events bring with it international customers.
He explained, if a Japanese guest arrives at the Wirtshaus am Bavariapark, he wants to provide a convenient experience. So serving that customer in the currency or wallet of their choice — where he’s found Bitcoin is a well-liked option — is definitely a benefit to him and to his customers.
In Germany, Sedgwick said the use of digital currency is “a very new thing” that is still growing in popularity.
In 2013, Germany’s finance ministry moved to categorize Bitcoin as private money and recognized it as a unit of account, which, according to reporting by CNBC’s Matt Clinch, means it can be used for tax and trading purposes in the country.
Living Group CEO, Grisales, also recently installed the BlockPay POS system to begin accepting digital currencies across all three of the organization’s companies, Living Hotels, Living Trips TMC, a travel agency, and Living Trips tour operator.
“This is a bet on the near future to change the way we manage the income of our sales and at the same time reduce our financing costs,” said Grisales via email, who added, “We are in a technological advancement towards digital money and therefore its use is still very limited to ordinary people.”
Grisales said his push for digital currency acceptance is a hedge on the future, potential massification of digital currencies.
Grisales also stated, the digital currency with the most commercial force, at this time, is Bitcoin, which is the world’s top digital currency by market capitalization at approximately $10 billion.
Streamlining digital currency payments
On the other side of the digital currency spectrum is the team behind BitShares Munich, which is trying to facilitate a global interworking of digital currencies, which are prone to volatility and which exist on the fringes of consumer awareness.
The solution for serving such a broad range of consumers is to deliver an agnostic payment platform that supports multiple digital currencies, explained Ken Code, chief technical officer at BitShares Munich.
BlockPay has “bridges” built in that automatically shifts one coin or asset into another. The transaction, he said, will typically happen in three seconds or less and the merchant can then receive his funds in his local currency, within seconds, or hold on to the digital currency in its form.
Christoph Hering, CEO at BitShares Munich, explained the biggest challenge for most digital currencies, like Bitcoin, Dash, Steem or Ethereum, is to secure adoption in brick-and-mortar businesses.
Hering’s vision is thus to “unite the multiple blockchain communities” and build easy to use tools that are beneficial and open to everyone.
To reach their goals, he and his team have used the powerful Bitshares blockchain to build a peer-to-peer network that esoterically exists to serve the people, without the need of any middlemen.
Bitshares is a decentralized asset exchange, described Hering, with the unique feature that users manage their private keys themselves and have total control over their wallets and money. The already platform connects thousands of businesses, consumers and users.
Every BlockPay merchant can also create their own digital assets on the Bitshares blockchain, which can represent loyalty points, coupons, rebates, or community-backed digital currencies.
Further, Hering stated, “In comparison to traditional POS services, we are handing over the private keys to our BlockPay users, creating a peer-to-peer payment network that serves the people first.”
Christoph and his team are consistently working to streamline digital currencies via a coin-agnostic approach. The objective is to help businesses of all sizes, join and grow within the new digital economy, pioneering work requires revolutionary thought, much the same as the merchants in this digital payments equation.
BitShares Munich combines 33 years of entrepreneurial experience in mobile payments, B2B money transfer, software development, point-of-sale, IT and telecommunications. Founded in 2015, our goal is to streamline blockchain-based digital payments and to provide business and individuals access to digital currencies like Bitcoin, Steem and Ethereum.