High Streets Initiative · 20 February 2018

Could cryptocurrency payments be a high street reality in two years?

One in ten small UK business owners already accepts currencies like Bitcoin

Over a third of small UK business owners believe cryptocurrencies will be accepted on the high street within two years, according to new research suggesting a mainstream future for alternative payment methods.

The research, undertaken by card machine provider Paymentsense, arrived after a recent market resurgence of virtual currencies, which has seen the price of Bitcoin rise by over a third over the last week.

However, uptake of cryptocurrency payments among UK business owners is yet to reflect their own predictions. Only one in ten survey respondents were already accepting the method, while a quarter failed to see it ever adopted by Britain’s high streets.

Hal Robson-Kanu founded The Turmeric Co. in 2016

Despite the recent so-called “cryptopocalypse” highlighting the volatility of currencies like Bitcoin, some analysts have predicted the price of the original cryptocurrency will double within six months.

Appetitie for cryptocurrency investment among small business owners also remains high. Almost six in ten said they’d consider investing, with around one in five already doing so.

One small business owner already tapping into virtual money has been Wales and West Bromwich Albion footballer Hal Robson-Kanu, whose natural medication brand The Turmeric Co. began accepting cryptocurrency payments at the end of 2017.

“[We] believe they are going to revolutionise global transactions for businesses at all levels. Instantaneous settlements with no need for centralised third parties and fees are a big plus,” Robson-Kanu explained.

“We’re a forward-thinking company with ambitious growth plans, so this flexibility is important to us. Cryptocurrencies are a really exciting payment option.”

The study also questioned small business owners on so-called “alternative” currencies. Over a quarter were directly involved with local currency schemes – seen first-hand by Business Advice in Liverpool, Bristol, Brixton and Lewes – designed to support local businesses in the community.



Local currencies series

Business Advice ventured to Liverpool, Brixton, Hackney and Bristol to find out how local currency schemes have been reinforcing local supply chains.


Commenting on the study, Guy Moreve, Paymentsense head of marketing, said it was “clear” cryptocurrencies were becoming a mainstream phenomenon, but handed some words of advice to owners curious about the benefits.

“Small business owners considering cryptocurrency as a payment option should be clear about how they can integrate it with their existing financial arrangements. Will suppliers or staff accept it? Can they pay local and national government agencies with it?

“Also, the value of unregulated cryptocurrency changes fast. This has significant implications for an SME’s revenue security. Using a trusted payment processor or merchant service provider can help guard against this by allowing a swift currency exchange, and improve security processes.

“For entrepreneurs in emerging sectors it might be worth the risks involved, but for others in more established or slower-moving areas it could be wiser to wait and see how things evolve over the next six to 12 months.”

Further research has suggested the number of UK firms using cryptocurrencies will double in 2018

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

High Streets Initiative