Luxury watch reseller WatchBox has received more than $10 million in cryptocurrency payments since adding it in 2021, says David Kaplan, chief operating officer.
It is a small percentage of the retailer’s total $500 million in sales.
“Single digits,” he says, but it is an important option.
The average order value for cryptocurrency-paid orders is $80,000, Kaplan says.
“[AOV] is skewed by several high-dollar transactions,” he adds.
WatchBox’s median cryptocurrency transaction is $20,000. This “is similar to non-cryptocurrency transactions — but the average is way higher,” Kaplan says.
“We have clients that have spent seven figures in cryptocurrency with us. Then we have the normal run-of-the-mill $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 transactions,” Kaplan says. “I woke up this morning and we had one $40,000 cryptocurrency transaction overnight.”
WatchBox sells its authenticated watches online and in retail stores.
“We lead with our website, but buying a watch is a very personal kind of sale,” Kaplan says. “We found that having locations and staff in the biggest watch markets in the world help us catalyze those markets.”
WatchBox ranks No. 264 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of North American online retailers by web sales.
What it costs WatchBox to offer cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency processing charges are less than credit cards, but more than wire transactions.
“It’s a relatively low transaction cost for us,” Kaplan says. WatchBox uses third-party bitcoin payment services provider BitPay. BitPay allows merchants to accept payments from cryptocurrency users.
Domestic outgoing wire transfer fees range from $0-$35. International outgoing wire transfer fees fall between $35-$50, according to Bankrate.
BitPay fees for monthly transactions:
- Less than $500,000: 2% + $0.25
- $500,000 – $999,999: 1.5% + $0.25
- $1 million or more: 1% + $0.25
From a fraud standpoint, cryptocurrency is also a plus, Kaplan says.
“Because as a [retailer], you’re on the hook for fraud,” he says. Whereas, for credit card transactions, WatchBox has spent a “lot of energy” following up with credit card transactions, he says.
“If we get into a dispute with American Express, they almost always side with the client,” Kaplan says. “The transactions are reversible. With cryptocurrency, once you have the money, you have the money.”
BitPay takes on the risk. It accepts the cryptocurrency payment and deposits cash into WatchBox’s account the next day.
Much of the cryptocurrency transactions are in digital currencies like USDC, he adds. Stable coins are a type of cryptocurrency where the value of the digital asset, or, digital coin, is fixed to another form of currency. This includes currency like the U.S. dollar or a precious metal, such as gold. Stable coins are considered more likely to retain their value compared with cryptocurrencies. Other cryptocurrencies can be volatile. Value can rise and fall dramatically within any given day.
Concerns about cryptocurrency instability
The heyday of cryptocurrency in 2021 ended in 2022. A series of selloffs and the collapse and arrest of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, as well as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, fueled further volatility. In March 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission told cryptocurrency payments vendor Coinbase that it will file a lawsuit because it believes the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange violated investor-protection laws.
Vice president of marketing at BitPay Merrick Theobald says merchants need to do their due diligence. “Look for red flags,” he says. “If a company is based in the Bahamas, you have to ask why there instead of the U.S. or another country that has tough (cryptocurrency) regulations.”
Vendors like BitPay focus on following all laws and regulations of the U.S., “which tend to be stricter than other countries,” Theobald says.
Customers pay at checkout using their cryptocurrency wallet in BitPay. Merchants do not have to hold onto cryptocurrency which can change value unexpectedly.
Outsourcing cryptocurrency processing is necessary for WatchBox, Kaplan says. It ensures the retailer isn’t breaking any laws, including Know Your Customer (KYC). BitPay monitors anti-money-laundering processing. This is especially important because WatchBox sells portable and valuable items, Kaplan says.
“We have a lot of attention on us,” Kaplan says. “All the countries in which we operate [want] to make sure that we’re following proper money laundering [rules] to avoid sanctions.”
Wire transaction sales have not decreased, he says.
“But I’d say the majority of our cryptocurrency transactions are transactions that would have been wire transfers otherwise,” Kaplan says.
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