When Shop.com first launched the option for customers to pay using cryptocurrency at checkout, the retailer received an enthusiastic response, says chief operating officer and president Steve Ashley.
“Back then, people told me, ‘I love it!’ followed by, ‘But I’ve never bought anything using bitcoin before,’” Ashley says about shoppers’ reactions. Shop.com began offering cryptocurrency at checkout in August 2021.
After a tumultuous 2022 in the cryptocurrency world, the number of customers paying with cryptocurrency decreased at Shop.com. What’s more, shoppers inquiring about using cryptocurrency on Shop.com also decreased, he says.
Prior to FTX’s crash in November 2022, cryptocurrency accounted for as much as 7%-10% of Shop.com’s overall sales, Ashley says. Currently, cryptocurrency payments account for 1%-3% of Shop.com’s overall sales, he says.
Shop.com uses BitPay, which charges the retailer a 1% transaction fee, Ashley says. When the retailer first started offering cryptocurrency as a payment option at checkout, it created cryptocurrency tutorials on its website for how shoppers could pay with this option on Shop.com.
Web traffic to Shop.com’s informational videos averaged about 10,000-15,000 views. Webinars averaged about 600 viewers each during the first three to six months after launching cryptocurrency, Ashley says. After that, views dropped significantly, he says, without revealing more.
The majority of Shop.com’s customer base is female and between the age of 40-45. But cryptocurrency usage tends to be by younger shoppers, Ashley says, without revealing details.
“When it comes to the [future] of the cryptocurrency [paying] customer, it’s going to be a younger demographic,” Ashley says. He believes younger consumers have seen the potential benefits of a decentralized financial world despite recent fallout of FTX and regional banks like Silicon Valley Bank, he says.
Shop.com outsources cryptocurrency to BitPay
BitPay ensures the retailer isn’t breaking any laws, including the Know Your Customer regulations. These are guidelines businesses must follow to ensure they collect legitimate identifying information from customers to avoid money laundering or fraud. BitPay monitors anti-money-laundering processing by requiring consumers to upload a form of government identification and a selfie.
On average, it costs retailers 1% of the transaction in fees, depending on the volume of cryptocurrency transactions that merchant processes monthly. Compared with credit cards, which Bankrate says can charge 1.43%-3.5%, cryptocurrency can be a cheaper payment to process for retailers.
Using third-party vendors like BitPay to process the cryptocurrency transaction is practical for merchants, says Alex More, head of litigation at Carrington Coleman law firm where he specializes in securities and fiduciary duty litigation and blockchain technology.
“If you’re a retailer who doesn’t want exposure to the legal issues or complexities of managing cryptocurrency payments, but wants to offer it, third-party financial institutions make it accessible,” More says.
Even with a third-party vendor, Carrington Coleman’s More urges retailers to be wary of accepting cryptocurrency just for the sake of it or because it’s trendy, he says. Currently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a number of cryptocurrency entities. It remains unclear how the government will establish and enforce regulations on cryptocurrency and how it will affect those buying, spending and accepting it.
Market America owns Shop.com and ranks No. 82 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of North American online retailers by web sales.
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