Retailers are finally warming to crypto

Some big names are entering this space, but will we ever see widespread adoption of crypto among retailers?
17 April 2019

Well, it won’t be quite like this. Source: Shutterstock

The crypto space is on the verge of a true global breakout. Adoption is increasing all the time. This is evidenced not only in the financial sector, in which major banks are increasingly joining the party, but in the retail sector too.

That’s the view of Nigel Green, Founder and Chief Executive of financial advisory organization deVere Group. He is, of course, just one of many high-profile crypto cheerleaders, constantly predicting big things for Bitcoin et al. Safe in the knowledge that no one will remember if they were wrong.

Nonetheless, there does now appear to be something of a groundswell movement happening right now in the retail sector. Last month, for instance, Swiss online giant Digitec-Galaxus announced it was getting onboard the Bitcoin bandwagon. Other altcoins that can be used to purchase items include Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin Cash SV (BSV), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Binance Coin (BNB), Litecoin (LTC), TRON (TRX), OmiseGo (OMG) and NEO (NEO).

Cryptocurrencies are fascinating and could become a relevant means of payment in e-commerce, said Digitec Co-Founder Oliver Herren and Chief Innovation Officer. He added that the company had wanted to make this move for some time, but it had been too complicated until now.

He also insisted that price volatility often flagged up by crypto critics as a barrier to mainstream success, will not be a problem, as all transactions are processed by third-party payment processor Coinify and immediately converted to Swiss francs. The new option will only initially be available for Swiss customers, although if it’s a success, Germany will also be brought onboard.

Overstock, Amazon and Starbucks

Overstock was the first big online retailer to start accepting Bitcoin in January 2014. Rumors perpetually swirl that Amazon is on the verge of following suit, but no official announcement as of yet. Given its penchant for throwing large amounts of cash at emerging technologies (drones, robotic couriers, cashierless stores, etc), it can only be a matter of time, however.

By 2022, people will routinely use Bitcoin in everyday transactions such as buying coffee at Starbucks, according to venture capitalist Tim Draper.

In a recent podcast interview on NBC Bay Area’s “Sand Hill Road,” he said that Bitcoin was one of the greatest technological advances that humanity has ever seen, capable of making a bigger change in society than any of us ever imagined.

In the near future, when you go to Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee, and you try to pay with dollars, the staff will laugh at you because you are not using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. It will be like the old lady paying out with pennies, he claimed.

That is perhaps a tad farfetched, but it did recently emerge that Starbucks had received “significant equity” in the upcoming Bakkt platform in return for a commitment to allow in-store Bitcoin-based payments this year.

The coffee giant will reportedly initially install Bakkt’s payment software in its US stores, which customers can use to pay with crypto. No actual cryptocurrency will end up processed by the chain, as it will be instantly transferred into fiat.


Where Starbucks goes, many others usually follow. And in this case, not just big hitters, seeing that crypto is arguably ideally suited to smaller players. The power of FOMO should not be underestimated here.

So, yes, we could see widespread adoption of crypto among retailers. But probably not in the near future. Various issues, including security and regulatory concerns and consumer education, still need to be overcome.