Monday, 06 July 2020

We asked eight small businesses about bitcoin—and very few were excited about it

Cryptocurrencies have a dedicated but very small following. For crypto to truly go mainstream as a means of payment, retail businesses big and—especially—small will have to start taking it seriously.

As part of Quartz’s Rewiring Small Business series, we asked eight small businesses from across the world the same set of questions, including this one: “Can you imagine using bitcoin or incorporating the blockchain in your business?” The answers from the owners and employees ranged from curiosity to laughter, and mostly demonstrate how far crypto has to go.

Store: The Cheeseboard Collective
What they do: Sell cheese, bread and pizza
Where: Berkeley, California, United States
Who: Cathy Goldsmith, community liaison
Answer: “We haven’t had anyone ask to pay with bitcoin yet, but I absolutely can imagine it. I think there are always going to be new forms of tender. Whether it’s bartering a potato for a head of lettuce or gold coins for a loaf of bread. Money has no [inherent] value and bitcoin has no [inherent] value. So why couldn’t you imagine us assigning value to something like bitcoin? But I don’t think it will be in my lifetime because it’s too insecure.

Personally, I would like to buy one bitcoin to see what it does so maybe I could understand it better.”

Store: Holographic Studios
What they do: Make holographs for museums, individual homes, magazines, and scientific purposes
Where: New York, New York, United States
Who: Jason Arthur Sapan, owner
Answer: “I would go blockchain, because I think it’s a better, more secure way of dealing with [customer transactions]. But, yeah, for clients who just want a secure methodology without having to pay the fees for wire transfers and everything else associated with the current banking system, I would use it as an alternative way of basically doing business. Bitcoin is the next point in the evolution of basically transferring money from one place to another in a safe, inexpensive manner.”

Store: Kulture Shop
What they do: Sell artwork
Where: Mumbai, India
Who: Arjun Charanjiva, Jas Charanjiva, and Kunal Anand, co-founders
Answer: “We can see the benefit of making purchasing more widespread and easier; however, we would definitely need to evaluate the risk and downside of going down this path. The idea of reaching a younger demographic across the world who prefers cryptocurrency sounds great but India’s not the place for it right now with the lack of regulation in India and with a trading ban that’s been imposed by our central bank.”

Store: Banca Bruno
What they do: Sell newspapers
Where: São Paulo, Brazil
Who: Eronildo Bispo, employee
Answer: “I don’t know. I did get some apps to try it but I don’t see the advantage. And it’ll take a while before it really becomes something concrete for us.”

Store: Let There Be Neon
What they do: Make neon signs
Where: New York, New York, United States
Who: Jeff Friedman, owner
Answer: “I don’t think so. I know very little about that currency, but I know enough about it to know… I don’t see the advantage for us. If it becomes more standardized, then it’s something that we would take on only because it would be necessary to do so. It means nothing else to us. I can’t see any reason from a financial point of view how it could be an advantage. The dollar still is the dollar worldwide.”

Store: Kulku-Katin Poikahat they do: Sell comic books
Where: Helsinki, Finland
Who: Juha Aarnisalo, owner
Answer: “No.” [reporter’s note: He picks up some vintage comics, and incredulously makes a gesture that suggests exchanging one of these treasures for crypto would be a bad trade.]

Store: Eso Won Books
What they do: Sells books
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
Who: James Fugate, co-owner
Answer: “No (laughs)! Absolutely not. I don’t think so—I can’t imagine, but you also have to be innovative, you have to keep up. But I doubt it.”

Store: Rockin Fig
What they do: Sell surfing gear
Where: Huntington Beach, California, United States
Who: Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti, owner
Answer: “Um, probably not. I kinda hate to say it, but I’m old school, and that’s the way it’s probably gonna be ‘til the end. Win or lose, that’s the way it’ll be. Some of the other surf shops, they’re kind of tech-ing out.”

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