As crypto has gained popularity and been propelled into the mainstream, it’s caused quite the commotion. Everywhere people are talking about its potential and what it could achieve, and one important area of this discussion is how cryptocurrencies could be applied to the real world.
Many think that if crypto could be taken out of the purely digital world and used as a means of payment in physical stores and services, the benefits could be enormous. It could function as a new kind of currency, different from fiat money with a whole range of unique advantages. But is this just a trendy concept, or can it really work? Well, it’s already on the way. Last year consumers spent $190.2 million in Bitcoin every month on merchant services, up from $9.8 million a month in 2013.
It’s clear there are benefits to this, and these can range from lower waiting times to more manageable fees, and much more. Consumers have a lot to gain — but for this model to really work it needs merchants to get behind it. More companies are accepting crypto all the time, including some seriously big names, but many others remain unwilling to take the plunge.
What’s holding them back? And how can we make it easier for vendors to join the crypto movement and bring real-world crypto payments into the mainstream?
Merchants and Crypto
Right now, there are a couple of major issues standing in the way of merchants accepting cryptocurrency on a wide scale. One of these is cryptocurrencies’ natural volatility. Most currencies tend to fluctuate pretty significantly in price, and these changes can happen very quickly and without much warning. That means if a vendor accepts a payment in crypto, that amount of currency could be worth much less when it comes to exchanging or spending it. Of course, it could work the opposite way too, but the risk is still there.
Another issue is the speed involved in a real-world crypto transaction. While this technology has the potential to be much quicker than fiat electronic payments like credit cards, it’s currently not quite there. At busy times, or with popular cryptocurrencies, waiting times can be prohibitively high. And when consumers want to do something on-the-go, like buying a coffee or a bottle of water, a wait of more than a few seconds becomes a big inconvenience.
These factors have combined to create a lack of trust in crypto among many vendors. Small companies who can’t really afford to take a risk might feel much more inclined to play it safe and stick with traditional payment methods. For these sellers, the benefits of crypto in areas like ease and cost are outweighed by the above issues and the lack of reliable options.
Many of the merchants accepting crypto are enthusiastic about the technology, and those who don’t care about it might have no interest in adopting it. That’s a problem, because without merchants onside, cryptocurrency payments in the physical world will never be mainstream — they’ll remain forever in the realm of speculation and hype.
So how can we change things, and make it easier and more attractive for merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments?
An Approach That Works for Merchants
TOS wants to re-design the way crypto payments work in the real world. This way that merchants will be encouraged to adopt the technology and promote more widespread use of it.
Their system is a fairly simple one. Users can purchase TOS, a cryptocurrency token that functions much like any other. It’s built on a public blockchain and can be traded in exchanges with other crypto and fiat currencies. The price of TOS is also like other cryptocurrencies, and subject to change and fluctuation.
However, users can exchange their TOS in an appropriate exchange for TOSP, which is slightly different. TOSP has a fixed price, which is tied to the local fiat currency. For example, 1 TOSP might equal $1 in the U.S., and £1 in the UK. It’s based on a private blockchain, and the value doesn’t fluctuate in the same way as other cryptocurrencies.
That means vendors wouldn’t have to worry about volatility when accepting payments in TOSP. They can rest easy knowing that the value will be pretty much the same when they exchange it. The system is also planned to be quicker than other cryptocurrencies, minimizing waiting times.
Right now, the project has only one exchange, in Singapore, where users can exchange their TOSP for fiat currency and TOS (and vice versa). But it looks promising, and the future could hold big things.
It’s going to be important to find ways to make crypto easier for merchants to adopt and use. The only way we’ll be able to do this is by removing fears about volatility and ease of use, so all that remains are crypto’s advantages.