Start accepting Bitcoin today
Whenever you have an online shop, a physical shop, a small business, work as freelance, want to accept donation or just get pay for secondhand stuff you are selling or the pizza you advance to your colleague at lunch break, it’s very easy to start accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Lightning (see my previous introduction). Here are several solutions with more or less control, more or less initial cost and usage fee, depending on your needs, skills and time that you are willing to invest.
“- I own you 15CHF for the pizza at lunch
– Ok, it will be 36’000 sats, here is your LN invoice.”
The most common use case, because you never have change, if not cash at all, your colleague order some pizza for lunch and pay for the whole team, of course with Bitcoin*. For this you only need a Bitcoin wallet, if possible supporting Lightning Network to reduce transactions cost and confirmation time. You can find and choose a wallet from my article about cryptocurrency wallets. And if your don’t have anybody to sell you Bitcoin at the office, you can buy some very easily.
*Just Eat (eat.ch) used to accept Bitcoin payment for food delivery but they removed this option recently. After reaching them it’s a matter of integrating BitPay into their new website, so it should come back eventually. In the meantime you can use a service like Bitrefill to buy gift card for Just Eat or Uber Eats using Bitcoin Lightning but it comes usually with more fees in the form of spread on exchange rate (6.8% according to my calculation, that’s huge!).
Owner of a small physical shop, a small company or freelancer
For small business with only a couple of employees, like a small shop, a stall at a market, a food truck, someone providing services like consulting, website builder, independent lawyer or just any freelancer. You can start accepting Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency in just a few minutes by setting up a wallet and sharing your public address with your customer. You have several options, like using always the same address and showing it on your website or print it as a QR code on your point of sale, it works well and it’s easy but it’s less privacy friendly as any customer could see all the payments you receive on this address. If this is acceptable enough until you figure out how many customers will pay in cryptocurrency, you can start like this and decide later if you should use more advance methods.
You can mitigate this privacy issue by changing regularly the address for payment (like every day or every week) or by using a privacy focused cryptocurrency like Monero. Alternatively you can have a wallet on a smartphone used for payment where you generate a new public address for each payment (the default usage on most wallet nowadays).
Even better, if you choose a Bitcoin Lightning wallet like Phoenix Wallet you can also generate payment invoice on request for each payment or use a wallet supporting LNURL to allow to share one payment link that always end up to your wallet. See my selection of wallets.
Looking to step up your Bitcoin game for your Business
You are getting serious about accepting Bitcoin and optionally other cryptocurrencies for your business, don’t worry it might be much easier than you expect. You need to run a small server with the software BTCPay server on it. Don’t look around for hours, if you want open source, free and full control over your payment system, it’s the only player in town. And it beats every other solution our there, so don’t waste your money on proprietary solution either. BTCPay server can be deployed on a very small computer like a Raspberry Pi, if you want to use it in your store directly. It can also run in your office or at home, it doesn’t matter much, it’s just slightly easier to use if it’s on your local network but it’s only a matter of initial setup anyway. For online shop, you can run it on the same server as your website, check with your web-hosting service for the possibilities to install additional software.
What can BTCPay server do for your business?
- Manage one or several stores
- Generate Bitcoin invoices of any amount on request and let the customer pay without entering any more information, just by scanning a QR code or copy-paste a code
- Send a payment request directly by email
- Create a payment to someone to be accepted on request by the payee
- Get a unique LNURL address for any payment were customer can enter freely the amount to pay (good for tips and donation)
- Allow your customer to pay with Bitcoin on chain or on Lightning Network
- Allow your customer to pay with other cryptocurrency directly with plugins or indirectly with a third-party service that convert payment on the fly to Bitcoin Lightning (for a fee)
- Fully integrate with online shop WooCommerce on WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Prestashop and more
- Manually list articles for sale with fixed or custom price (only useful if you don’t have a proper shop like above already)
- Track all invoices, open payments, payments received…
- Manage refunds
- Manage several point of payments with different level of access for your employees
- And much more with plugins and API integration
Ultimately but optionally, you can even goes a step further by hosting a full Bitcoin node (on the same server or not) and avoid any third-party at all to be involved in your payment system by checking yourself every transactions made on the Bitcoin blockchain, including yours of course (don’t worry it’s all automatic). It’s the most privacy friendly option and allow you to do much more with Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. And no it’s not like mining bitcoins, your full node just check and store the Bitcoin blockchain, you can run this on a quite simple machine like a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 or 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The total hardware cost is about 200 to 300CHF one time for a complete, almost ready to use, solution with 100% control, no third party at all and zero fee!
As a proof of concept I have setup my own Bitcoin full node, using a ready to use, open source, operating system named Umbrel. Installation take a few minutes but you need about a week to sync with the Bitcoin blockchain. Then you can install in a couple of clicks your BTCPay Server and possibly open some channels on the Bitcoin Lightning Network to start accepting fast and cheap payment immediately.
You can visit my BTCPay store page or the donation page on my blog to see how it works. Of course a full e-commerce integration is much more clean and invisible to the customer once done properly. The customer want to pay, select Bitcoin as payment, gets a small widget on the page with a QR code to pay with the default payment option that you selected in the settings and a menu to select other payment method like BTC on-chain, BTC LNURL, BTC Lightning invoice,…
BTCPay server looks neat but I’m too lazy to install one
You don’t feel confident setting up and managing your own BTCPay server. Don’t worry there are other solutions, and not bad ones like cryptocurrency payment provider charging your huge fee while making several % of margin on the exchange rate on the back of your customer. The service OpenNode.com offer ready to use BTCPay server deployment that you can use immediately without any technical knowledge. All Bitcoin payment arrive directly in your Bitcoin wallet, fully under your control. They also offer options to convert portion or all payment received in Bitcoin into a fiat currency of your choice (USD, EUR, GBP,… unfortunately they don’t offer CHF conversion at the moment). The cost is fair and simple, 1% of all payment. Note that I have no affiliation with them whatsoever, I don’t know anybody working there and don’t use their services actively, but I have just compared many services and read about their reputation to figure out it was one of the best due to their use of the open source BTCPay Server software and one of the the cheapest offering on the market. In my opinion 1% fee is high enough to do the effort to host your own server but if you want to start fast, don’t engage to much money and time or just test the acceptance of Bitcoin with occasional payment, this is a good and trusted solution until you want to take full control of your commerce payment by yourself.
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Disclaimer I’m not a financial advisor, nor a professional in any kind of industry link to finance, cryptocurrencies nor tax legislation. I’m just giving my personal opinion and life advise about topics that I like and experiment by myself on my free time. My articles could always have mistakes, inaccuracies or lead to misunderstanding of a more complex topic. I cannot by any mean be liable for any loss or issue you could have by following any strategy or using any app or product that I mention in my articles. Using any kind of investment product, cryptocurrencies, smart-contracts, app or tool always come with a certain risk. Before engaging your data, time and money in any activities, always do you due diligence and get informed by yourself about the implications and risks.
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