Header Ads

The enemy of the banks

It sounds tempting: when invoices are settled in the international exchange of goods with virtual currencies, then banks have no more leverage to levy fees on currency conversions or transactions due. Where no payment is made by credit card, or no sum X flows from one to the other bank account, the financial institutions are simply empty. Perhaps they would even be forced to adjust their prices to regain market share if one day the virtual currencies dispute large parts of one of their traditional revenue streams. The winner in this case would be the customer.

A new competitor, then? Companies that export much around the world, as thousands of German companies do, are grateful for every euro they can save in the face of fierce global competition. The number of digital credit providers is growing steadily: Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple or Litecoin are among the most widespread, but are only a handful of the total of about 1300 digital currencies that exist today. Around 100,000 companies around the world have been recognizing payments from their customers with virtual money. The trend is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the IT industry and online trading.

And yet: "Virtual currencies will not completely replace traditional payment transactions," says Karsten Luc, digitalization specialist at consulting firm AKRYL, even though it's a "hot topic" that is currently affecting the start-up community in particular. Although cryptocurrencies have been on the rise since their invention in 2009, they still face a number of hurdles before accepting the same acceptance. The new means of payment in the financial sector and in politics are skeptical. A few days ago, the head of payments at the Bundesbank, Carl-Ludwig Thiele, emphasized in his interview with this newspaper that Bitcoin is less a currency than a speculative investment. Too often tokens are used to pay for goods and services. Instead, their owners would rather hope for an increase in value. It would not be to blame the owners. Those who invested in the past could actually make a fortune with it. But that does not necessarily mean that companies and customers pay for their goods traffic via the alternative digital route.

The awareness of virtual currencies is increasing rapidly, because more and more people have ever picked up on the term Bitcoin. But many do not really know what it is all about. For many consumers, new technologies are rather suspect, which limits their interest in exploring them. Why should companies consider accepting cryptocurrencies or even paying for them?

Especially since experts argue about whether Bitcoins and Co. are actually better than unstable currencies. Especially the companies that do business in states where high inflation rates threaten the margins may prefer the new alternative. Instead of being paid off in soft rupees, which will lose ten percent of their value after billing until payday, Bitcoins could deliver stable prospects. But the virtual currencies are subject to significant price fluctuations. Especially the performance in the past twelve months can be feared that a speculative bubble has arisen, which can burst just as quickly and destroy the assets again.

This is all the more so as that the political future of cryptocurrencies is not yet clear. In China, where large volumes have been traded, the government has so far taken no clear line in dealing with the new technology, which would have led to greater security for investors and users. In Japan, the government has selected digital currencies as an official form of payment in the spring. Nevertheless, the Japanese are still looking for a way to standardize accounting for bitcoins. It is clear that payments of any kind must be taxed and accounted for. However, users themselves often do not know what criteria to use to register cryptocurrencies in their books.

Nevertheless, their integration into everyday economic processes is steadily increasing. Special providers such as Bitpay or Coingate offer the software to make it easier for businesses to engage in payments without much expertise. They calculate the equivalent of a purchase price, accept the customer's payment in Bitcoin and transfer to the customer's account in the desired hard currency. For a fee is due. So not the manufacturing company carries the risk of fluctuating Bitcoin courses, but the intermediaries. Meanwhile, in some stores, you can even buy takeaway coffee using special cryptocurrency conversion programs.

Whether the popularity increases so much that in the menu of a restaurant next to the price in Euro also the price in Bitcoin or other virtual currency stands, depends therefore on a handful of factors. "Assuming that we will all pay bitcoins in one or two years is out of the question, and politics and the world of finance will not allow it to spread quickly," says digitalization expert Luc. The expert is equally optimistic that a new payment culture is rapidly developing beyond the traditional branches of the company. This is conceivable, for example, in the IT sector. If the digital payment methods, together with a clean business accounting, become established, they could decisively change the classical payment traffic.
Powered by Blogger.