In a month that has seen Bitcoin hit new highs for the year, the good news just keeps flowing. According to new reports, some of the biggest retailers in the United States are now accepting cryptocurrency payments. These include Starbucks, Nordstrom, Barnes and Noble and Amazon-owned Whole Foods.
The new initiative is the product of a partnership between New York-based crypto exchange Gemini and payments startup Flexa. What makes it even better is that the entire process is as smooth and seamless as paying using Apple Pay or any other phone-based digital wallet.
The payment works via Flexa’s Spedn mobile app. Once you install the app on your smartphone, you the proceed to send some cryptos to your wallet. The app supports a number of cryptos including the obvious suspects, Bitcoin and Ethereum. It also supports Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and the exchange’s native dollar-pegged stablecoin, the Gemini Dollar.
Once you fund your wallet, you just hold up your app to pay at the cashier, just as you would with Apple Pay. The cashier doesn’t even get to know that you’re paying in cryptos. The retailer receives his payment in real-time through the method of his choice, be it crypto or fiat currencies. For those that select fiat payments, Gemini handles the conversion.
According to a report by Forbes, Cameron Winklevoss, one half of the famous Winklevoss twins duo, couldn’t hide his excitement at the launch of the product. After demonstrating just how easy it is to use the Spedn app at a Starbucks outlet, he proudly exclaimed:
We’re finally realizing the promise of crypto in payments. It’s taken a long time, but as you’ve seen for yourself we’re here. It’s a total win for the merchants. That transaction was effectively free.
Will This Be the One That Works Out?
Over the years, many global retail giants have integrated crypto payments into their operations. However, many have ceased accepting cryptos, blaming volatility and low customer uptake. So, will this be the one that works out?
It might well be. For one, the initiative has brought on board many of the largest retailers. They include Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Baskin Robbins, GameStop, Jamba Juice, Whole Foods Market and many more. However, most of these declined to give any comments to media outlets.
Starbucks, in particular, remains extra cagey regarding this new initiative. The food chain asked not to be included in the official announcement, despite accepting payments via the Spedn app. The report by Forbes indicated that while taking photos at a Starbucks outlet to showcase the product, Cameron was allegedly asked to cover up the Starbucks logo. This was apparently because the company isn’t ready yet to publicly associate itself with the product.
And if you’re wondering why the Spedn app has an edge over the other payment methods, Tyler Spalding has the answers. Spalding, who is the founder and CEO of Flexa believes that for one, the new payment method will help retailers avoid chargebacks. Crypto transactions are permanent and thus, the clients can’t reverse. A report by Javelin Strategy, a consulting firm estimated that chargebacks cost retailers over $31 billion in 2017 alone.
The other benefit is that the transaction fees are extremely low. Spalding made it clear that “Whatever they’re paying now, we wanna go lower than that.”