Getting Started with Payment Processing

Integrating Bitcoin Payments

By Tony Gallippi / October 15th, 2014

Integrating bitcoin payments into your business is a fairly simple process. If you have a small business or online store, you can start accepting bitcoin in just a couple of hours. Billion-dollar enterprises take a little longer, but even TigerDirect, the huge tech retailer, was able to integrate bitcoin payments in as little as four days. Once you decide how you want to accept bitcoin, the matter of integrating it is both simple and free.

There are two ways to accept bitcoin for payment: directly or indirectly. If you choose the direct route, customers can send bitcoin to your wallet by scanning a QR code. You can set up a “business wallet” using a free wallet service, and you can store it on your computer, tablet or smartphone. If you then intend to hold bitcoin as an asset and watch its value rise over time, it would be your responsibility to convert the bitcoin to cash to cover your expenses, which can be done on an exchange. Accounting for any capital gains and assuming the risk of the price volatility would also be up to you.

Some businesses find it more convenient to accept bitcoin indirectly, through a bitcoin payment processor. These processors can offer services to make bitcoin use more effective, from bitcoin-to-currency settlement to sales and accounting integration. Each bitcoin payment processor has different service models, so be sure to shop carefully for what you need.

Most payment processors allow you to set your prices in your local currency. There’s no need to peg your prices to bitcoin’s exchange rate. The payment processors offer point-of- sale systems that can easily calculate the bitcoin price at the point of checkout. More important, they can settle incoming bitcoin funds in your local currency to maintain value stability. This way, the rise or fall in the price of bitcoin doesn’t affect the price of your product or service.

A partnership with a payment processor can essentially eliminate any risk with bitcoin. These processors will ensure you receive the USD value (or your local currency) of your invoice and are not exposed to the price fluctuations of bitcoin. In fact, due to the lower cost of accepting bitcoin payments and the free publicity it can bring as a byproduct, your business has more to gain than to lose.

Most payment processors allow you to receive a daily settlement in your local currency, and many can enable you to receive a mix of bitcoin and your local currency, depending on your preference. If you elect to receive a portion or all of your bitcoin transactions in bitcoin, it would be up to you and your accountant to report any capital gains. If you receive 100 percent of your transactions in your local currency, no additional reporting would be necessary. Be sure to discuss this with your accountant before making any changes to your settlement preferences.

By Tony Gallippi

Executive Chairman, BitPay

Tony Gallippi serves as the co-founder and Executive Chairman of BitPay which was founded in 2011 and is a premier Bitcoin payment processor handling millions of dollars worth of transactions per month. He has 15 years of experience in sales and marketing working in the robotics industry, was a district sales manager for Aerotech, and a regional sales manager for Industrial Devices Corporation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.