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Calgary businesses gear up to accept cryptocurrency as payment

Passing trend or the way of the future?

Some Calgary businesses are on the cutting edge, experimenting with accepting various cryptocurrencies as payment.

The price of Bitcoin has rocketed past $75,000 CDN in recent days. The rise of other cryptocurrencies have come along with it. So the idea of the blockchain-based payment system, isn’t that far fetched.

Businesses like Vine Styles, a boutique wine store located in Kensington, have recently implemented cryptocurrency payment options to their online storefront.

“It’s definitely on a path that it will eventually be adopted,” said Jen Sarpe, social stylist for Vine Styles.

“As a business, I feel it’s a smart move to be ahead of the curve, and to be on top of it as soon it starts getting adopted more in Calgary.”

Vine Styles uses a third-party commerce site Bitpay to handle the transactions.

Bitpay and other third-party services allow for consumers and businesses to more easily use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Etherium, and others.

For Vine Styles, this also means less risk for the business. Prices for many cryptocurrencies have been incredibly volatile, especially in recent months. The services convert whichever coin being used to pay into Canadian dollars for the store.

This means that businesses will always receive what their product or service is worth.

“Because we are a small business, in the middle of pandemic, we do still need CAD as our main currency coming in,” said Sarpe.

“But [holding] crypto is something that we‘re considering down the road as well.”

Slow to adopt

While businesses have been quick to jump on crypto, consumers may not be ready to adopt it yet.

Baba’s Art Haus, an art gallery and seller, has been offering crypto payment options since 2018. They have yet to make a sale using that payment.

Others outlets in the city have also been very early adopters. Bitcoin ATMs have also appeared in Calgary.

According to Victor Seremetkoski, one of the owners of Baba’s Art Haus, technological barriers are a likely culprit.

“The method of payment and trading systems for digital currencies are still fairly new,” he said.

As well as a general apprehension around a “digital” currency which can feel less tangible to some.

But as more and more of our financial lives are moving online and to mobile apps, the hope is that services like Bitpay can start to bridge that gap.

Emergent industry

Alongside Bitpay, other companies are developing ways to make trading and using crypto more user friendly.

Companies such as the crypto exchange Coinbase and their respective commerce solution, as well as established institutions like Paypal are dipping their toes in as well.

Coinbase has also been receiving a lot of attention as the crypto exchange site debuted on the New York Stock Exchange this week.