12 Mar 2018 9:23 AM

Whether you’re a convert or a sceptic, it’s difficult to ignore the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin over the past 12 months. And now small business owners are predicting that cryptocurrency payments will be commonplace on the high street within two years.

Over a third of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners expect cryptocurrency payments to become a reality according to the latest findings from Paymentsense, the card machine provider.

Recent warnings about cryptocurrencies from no less than Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, do not appear to have dented enthusiasm for the alternative payment phenomenon among the UK’s business community. According to Paymentsense, just over a fifth of small business owners are so optimistic about cryptocurrencies that they foresee a high street presence within a year.

One-in-eight small business owners said they already accept cryptocurrency payments, noting the opportunity for instantaneous settlements with no need for centralised third parties and fees. Just under one-in-five businesses also confirmed they have already invested in the sector.

The findings from Paymentsense also revealed that other payment methods have established a foothold amongst UK small businesses. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they accept alternative currencies, with over a quarter (27%) involved in schemes such as the Bristol, Liverpool, Brixton and Lewes pound to encourage local spending. A further 15% said they accept national bartering schemes such as Bartercard.

Cryptocurrencies have their champions but, at this relatively immature phase, there remains plenty for the small business owner to consider – and on which to seek advice – before taking the plunge. For example, can they incorporate the option into their existing financial arrangements and will suppliers and/or staff accept this payment method?

In addition, the value of unregulated cryptocurrencies can be volatile and this in turn could have implications for an SME’s revenue security. Using a trusted payment processor or merchant service provider can guard against this.