Are you waiting for the blockchain to become mainstream before accepting cryptocurrency payments on your app? You may consider doing it right now because even if the volume of card payment transactions have been rapidly growing, the existing payment structure has its problems too. And with customers demanding almost instantaneous transaction speed and improved accessibility, tools that mediate the trade have to be changed and optimized.
If blockchain-based payments overcome the difficulties of the traditional sector, and if there is a growth of online and mobile payments, then using the blockchain will become both economical and mainstream. When this will happen, do you want to be caught between questions ranging from “Is there a viable solution?” to “How do I get started?” or be prepared to join the trend? In this article, you’ll discover how blockchain payments work, what your choices of middleman solutions are, and where can you find detailed integration guides to try it for yourself right now!
We would like to thank the team at OpenFuture for their contributions to the design and implementation of the research and to the analysis of the result.
Why Should I Choose the Blockchain?
Buying anything through apps, be it in-game “power ups” or just paying to remove ads, is done through a variety of systems, but the two things that most apps have in common are PayPal and credit cards, but those are limited to fiat currencies. The question of why you should even use anything other than these systems is relatively easy to answer, so let’s see why you should choose a decentralized system.
Payments through the blockchain are similar to a wire transfer or cash transaction, where payment is “pushed” directly from one party to another without going through another financial institution.
[bctt tweet=”Payments through the blockchain are similar to a cash transaction”]
By contrast, credit card transactions mean that the buyer effectively gives permission to the seller to “pull” a payment from the buyer’s account, passing it through several financial intermediaries in the process. The money is not given, or pushed; you just give them permission to take your money or pull it.
In the case of Visa, there are four parties:
- the merchant
- the acquirer (the financial institution that enables payments to the merchant)
- the issuer (the card holder’s bank)
- and the individual cardholder.
All of these people get all of the personal information from your card, and you have to trust them to not misuse that information.
Nobody uses credit cards when there’s PayPal anyways! Why go decentralized?
Well sure, you could argue that nobody really has to use credit cards as in-app payment if they go through the simple steps of establishing a PayPal account, for instance. However, there are obvious benefits for using a decentralized system over a centralized one such as PayPal.
Your money in PayPal is just information stored and guaranteed by PayPal; likewise, your coins in a decentralized system are just information stored and guaranteed by the system’s protocol. The difference is that PayPal is centralized and can rewrite your balance at any time – rarely in your favor, as proven by the scandal with PayPal accidentally crediting a man 92 quadrillion US dollars in 2013. Such mistakes do not happen on decentralized systems because a blockchain is immutable, which means transaction data cannot be changed, and it is decentralized, which means no single person or group has power over it.
[bctt tweet=”Using cryptocurrency, there is no need for conversion”]
Additionally, PayPal charges nearly 3% for transactions between people, charging additional fees if currency conversion needs to take place, which usually happens with international transfers. Using cryptocurrency, there is no need for conversion, and exchanges also charge trading fees, usually less than 1%, when you need to convert it to fiat money.
Reasons like these are why you need a blockchain-based payment system within your app.
What’s in It for Me?
Even with all these pros for implementing blockchain payment solutions, this is not a simple feat and you may well think that it’s simply not worth it. But numbers don’t lie: such an implementation could boost your popularity and make you more money than you thought possible.
Take Long Island Iced Tea Corp. for example; a company whose shares rose as much as 289% after the unprofitable New York-based company rebranded itself Long Blockchain Corp. during the peak of the crypto craze in December 2017. Long Blockchain said it will seek to partner with or invest in companies that develop decentralized ledgers. At the time, they had done nothing to actually implement blockchain technology.
The annual growth rate of fintech’s transaction value also goes to prove this point. According to data from Statista, at 13.5% it indicates an upward trend of people spending money in this direction. The popularity of e-money is growing as well. Looking through the trends in the European Union, Statista shows us that in 2013 1.8 million euros was spent through e-money, whereas in 2016 that number grew to 2.8 million.
[bctt tweet=”The growing number of decentralized transactions indicate interest in evading the hassle of banks while making payments”]
E-money is broadly defined as an electronic store of monetary value on a technical device that may be widely used for making payments to entities other than the e-money issuer. The device acts as a prepaid bearer instrument which does not necessarily involve bank accounts in transactions. It could be argued that this is a step in the direction of decentralized payments, given the similarities. The growing number of these transactions indicate interest in evading the hassle of banks while making payments.
We’ve created an infographic to better explain this idea to you:
The Place of Mobile Wallets
Let’s not forget that the usage of mobile wallets is rising too. Some of them are peer-to-peer, similar to what the blockchain does, like Venmo, Zelle, or the Facebook messenger. However, they do not have the decentralized nature of the blockchain. The erosion of trust that has been going on for around a decade at this point, ever since the financial crisis of 2008, has made decentralization the most popular solution.
Giving people the ability to control their own funds without going through centralized banks is the driving force behind the popularity of cryptocurrencies, and transparency is often cited as the reason to switch to blockchain technology.
[bctt tweet=”Mobile wallets are preferred nowadays because they are simpler to use”]
Mobile wallets are preferred nowadays because they are simpler to use – they are intuitive, have simple user interfaces, and don’t require a lot of technical knowledge to operate them.
How Do I Get Started?
If you’re considering integrating blockchain payments into your app, don’t worry, you don’t need to hire a complete team of developers and make everything from scratch. There are middleman solutions that offer the technology for implementation, but with slight differences – chances are, something is going to fit your vision.
The OPEN platform provides the infrastructure for implementing the blockchain-based payment system directly into the application’s backend. This enables the application to treat cryptocurrencies the same way it would treat fiat payments, with the same options to provide simpler use of cryptocurrencies and better adoption through similarity. Very little to no blockchain knowledge is required; by behaving similar to fiat payment systems, it seems more familiar and intuitive to users.
Supported cryptocurrencies: Blockchain agnostic. All ERC20 coins are already accepted and they are currently implementing a solution for NEO and other blockchains to facilitate payments that use multiple cryptocurrencies.
Solutions for: Both merchants and customers.
Cost: The only cost is the 3% developer pool fee, which will decrease as the number of transactions increase.
Integration process: OPEN uses a standard REST API that can be used over nearly any protocol. This means you don’t need to reprogram your app. In short, only a few lines of code are added into your application and you’re good to go.
CoinGate is a blockchain payment processor that supports over 50 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, etc. The reliable payments infrastructure caters to the needs of both merchants and their customers. Whichever currency the customer pays with, it is settled either in Bitcoin or in Euros. No matter which crypto you hold, if it’s not supported, you can send a form requesting them to accept it!
Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and over 50 more that can be found here.
Solutions for: Both merchants and customers.
Costs: The platform charges a 1% processing fee on all payments. There are no monthly, registration, or support fees.
Integration process: CoinGate uses a simple but fully customizable API that allows integrating crypto payments into any webshop or online business. The process is explained in detail on their website as examples of code, what that code should look like, and how it works for developers.
The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase launched its service for merchants to accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin payments, and deposit them into their own digital wallets. Even if you’re not a developer, there are premade plugins available for use. It can be directly integrated into a merchant’s checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform. According to their website, Shopify already uses this service.
Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Solutions for: Both merchants and customers.
Costs: One percent fee model for withdrawing the cryptos to fiat currencies in your bank account.
Integration process: If you are a developer or have one, their website has a detailed explanation of the integration process with examples of code and explanations on how to send and receive charges. But even if you are not a developer, there are solutions ranging from using a premade plugin without any custom integration or starting to accept crypto from Shopify if you have a store there.
With these options, and more surfacing every day, there is no reason to be scared of accepting cryptocurrencies through your app, be it a game, a shop, or something else entirely. Not only are there many solutions, they are also made to be as simple as possible (you only need a basic understanding of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, or somebody who knows about it!), and it is already proven that you will gain more users and your app will make more money. These solutions are not expensive, and you do not need too many resources to get started.
Even if you decide that blockchain-based in-app payments are not for you, keep these options open – you will need them when every app in the Google Play Store or App Store accepts cryptocurrencies.