Lighting products supplier H&M Distributors Inc. is betting that accepting cryptocurrency will increase international sales by removing many of the cost and time barriers that make cross-border sales difficult.
Accepting cryptocurrency allows Henderson, Nevada-based H&M to eliminate the banking fees associated with cross-border sales, such as for currency conversion and remittance. It also enables the company to settle international purchases on a same-day basis, which is not guaranteed with bank remittances between B2B buyers and sellers, as the cryptocurrencies H&M is accepting settle transactions in minutes.
Removing those barriers should make doing business with H&M more attractive to international B2B buyers, CEO Herb Needham says.
Converting crypto payments
“Accepting cryptocurrency payments allows us to share our expertise with more clients by removing many of the barriers that made it difficult to sell internationally,” Needham says. “What sold us [on accepting cryptocurrency] was the settlement system, which allows us to convert crypto payments to a U.S. dollar equivalent right away.”
H&M is accepting multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Zcoin. Payments will be processed through Chimpion, a cryptocurrency ecommerce platform.
“Cross-border invoicing can be painful for B2B sellers because, in some cases, it can take weeks to get paid,” says Krista Tedder, head of payments for Javelin Strategy & Research. “For sellers doing a lot of cross-border business, accepting cryptocurrency can add value to their operation.”
On the acceptance side, H&M expects to pay less than one cent per transaction and there is no risk of a chargeback, since cryptocurrency transactions are validated on each currency’s blockchain, the immutable up-to-the minute internet-based ledger that verifies all transactions made with a cryptocurrency. Once a transaction is officially added to the blockchain, it cannot be reversed or modified, which eliminates the risk of a chargeback, H&M says. H&M expects to pass the savings from lower transaction fees and reduced chargebacks to its customers.
The risk of losing value
Lower acceptance costs and faster settlement times aside, not many B2B sellers, or B2C merchants for that matter, are known to accept cryptocurrency. And there’s a laundry list of reasons why. The biggest reason has to do with cryptocurrency’s ambiguity as a mainstream payment option.
The United States government does not recognize cryptocurrency as a fiat currency. Instead, it classifies cryptocurrency as an investment. Subsequently, the currency is heavily traded, which can lead to volatility in its value at any given time. While Litecoin transactions can be processed in 1 minute and 90 seconds, Ethereum transactions can take 6-7 minutes to process and Bitcoin transactions 15 minutes or longer. In comparison, a credit card transaction can settle in seconds.
Such settlement times—though typically faster than bank remittances between B2B buyers and sellers—put cryptocurrency at risk of losing value between the time it is spent and the transaction settled. Without a guarantee from the transaction processor to absorb any price volatility that goes along with cryptocurrency transactions or immediate conversion into dollars, price volatility is a risk for B2B sellers.
“If a merchant sits on a cryptocurrency payment too long, there is a risk the value will fluctuate before settlement,” says Tedder. “Accepting crypto for cross-border sales can be a plus, but there are risks. For most businesses, there is very little value in accepting this payment form.”
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance writer covering business and technology.
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