The emergence of Convergence
Thursday 25 February 2016
BitScan is making it easier than ever for exchanges, wallet providers and other crypto sites and businesses to integrate instant search for an extensive marketplace - benefitting everyone.
Bitcoin is a really cool idea in theory, but let’s face it: there’s an entry barrier. As if the concept of magical internet money wasn’t enough, customers have got to get their heads around the idea of wallets (including private keys, if you want to do it properly) and take a chance sending their money to an exchange. It’s not as risky as it used to be, thanks to some much-needed post-Gox professionalisation of the industry, but still quite a big ask. Then you’ve got to spend the things somewhere, hunting out crypto stores that actually sell something you want.
Convergence: that’s the buzzword for the idea that you can have a separate phone, camera, MP3 player, clock, diary, GPS and coffee maker - but isn’t it handy when they all come in the same device? (Ok, not the coffee maker. Yet.)
Convergence hasn't so far been a major priority for bitcoin wallet providers, exchanges and merchants
Aside from some improvements to user interfaces, convergence is what we not only expect but want to see for bitcoin. We’ve had our dotcom bust, that long period of time after the December 2013 bubble burst and a lot of companies realised they needed to do more than just facilitate crypto payments. Wallet companies, in particular, need a viable business model. The low transaction fees associated with bitcoin can be a problem, as well as a selling point. To survive, bitcoin businesses are going to need to diversify and offer more than the competition.
And so we’ve started to see wallets and exchanges bundling their services together. Coinbase was one of the first to do this, offering customers not only a way to buy and sell bitcoins, but a safe place to store them too. Initiatives like OpenLedger take a different approach, allowing customers full control over their private keys, whilst at the same time enabling them to trade freely. These are natural developments, but there’s at least one more strand we’re working to promote.
Trade, store - spend
What do you actually do with bitcoins? Although the advantages of low-cost global transactions should be obvious, a large part of the activity in the bitcoin ecosystem so far has been about speculation. For that, only a wallet and an exchange are necessary (just an exchange, if you’re willing to take a risk).
But if the advantages of the financial revolution that peer-to-peer money represents are to be fully realised, we need to do more to push bitcoin into the real economy. That’s exactly what BitScan is doing. Our tools make it easier than ever for merchants to get set up with a crypto-accepting storefront, and customers enjoy not only a 5% discount for bitcoin payments over using a credit card, but also the power of instant search to browse our full directory in real time.
We’ve made it simple and easy to integrate this functionality into an existing website, and really fast for new merchants to sign up and create a new storefront. That adds value for webhosts, wallets and exchanges, by giving people an easy way to spend their bitcoins on just about whatever they want, and it dramatically lowers the entry barriers for people who want to explore bitcoin because they recognise the theoretical benefits but are worried about how tech-savvy they need to be. Webhosts also receive ongoing commission fees from new merchant sign-ups. Merchants get powerful tools and multi-channel marketing.
This convergence of merchants with wallets, exchanges and other crypto sites and businesses is something we’re really excited about. We think it’s a way for everyone to win and to leverage network effects by pulling together different elements of the bitcoin ecosystem in the same place.
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