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Cash, Charge or Bitcoin: Is the aftermarket ready for cryptocurrency?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - 09:00
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Cryptocurrencies have received a lot of hype and attention as alternative payment methods on the Internet and elsewhere. The most famous is bitcoin, a digital currency that has ballooned in value through speculation (a single bitcoin is worth roughly $3,430 as of this post). Cryptocurrencies don’t exist physically and are not backed by governments or central banks. In the case of bitcoin, the currency is managed through a blockchain network, which serves as a secure, online ledger of every transaction.

In bitcoin’s wake, additional cryptocurrencies have emerged – Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, EOS, Bitcoin Cash, and others. Online retailers (and even some brick-and-mortar locations) have begun accepting bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Can cryptocurrencies be a fit for the aftermarket? A few companies in the auto parts sector have experimented with bitcoin, but so far there aren’t many companies actually processing transactions that way. There are also concerns that we’re in the midst of a cryptocurrency bubble that could send values plummeting in the near future.

Traverse City, Mich.-based MIBearings began accepting Bitcoin in 2013. To begin using cryptocurrencies, the company signed up with the Coinbase and BitPay services so that it could accept bitcoin transactions. “We originally decided to accept bitcoin to test out this niche market and see if anyone was interested in paying for automotive parts with Bitcoin,” says owner Luke Rehmann. He adds that the company would consider accepting other currencies depending on volatility, transaction fees and exchange rates.

“We implemented a receiving payment wallet for BTC and integrated BitPay with our ZenCart setup at the time. All customer transactions would be sent to a single wallet where we would verify the transaction,” Rehmann says.

While the implementation went smoothly, Rehmann repots that MIBearings has yet to receive any payments with bitcoin. That said, there are some benefits to using cryptocurrencies, including low transaction fees and no chance of chargebacks. On the downside, there is currently low demand and the currencies are highly volatile.

Another company, online auto parts retailer NewParts, announced cryptocurrency support in October 2018 using the Shopping Cart Elite platform. 

"NewParts is committed to making our massive inventory of auto parts as accessible as possible to our customers," said CEO Dano Ramovich. "That's why we decided to allow our customers to pay with cryptocurrency – it opens up our business to international markets and enables us to accept and process transactions more quickly and affordably."

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