Making Bitcoin more accessible in a convenient manner for mainstream consumers has proven to be quite a challenge. Various Bitcoin exchanges are looking to implement more commonly used payment methods such as credit cards, whereas other enthusiasts feel there should be more Bitcoin ATMs around the world. But what if the next logical step of Bitcoin acceptance does not lie in either of these solutions, but in the form of Bitcoin terminals?
The Pros and Cons of Using Bitcoin Terminals
Buying and selling Bitcoin in a peer-to-peer fashion in exchange for convenient payment methods is not as easy as it sounds. While platforms such as LocalBitcoins promote peer-to-peer trades, most of the transactions take place in an online ecosystem. Physical exchanges of Bitcoin versus fiat currency are becoming less common.
From a security point of view, it only makes sense for people not to carry a ton of digital or fiat currency on them in person, as you can never tell how a physical peer-to-peer trade will turn out. That being said, there is a viable solution in place to solve this potential problem, called a Bitcoin payment terminal.
The way a Bitcoin payment terminal works is similar to how regular payment terminals are used. There are cards involved — although they are optional — as well as invoices that can be printed as a receipt. Furthermore, a Bitcoin terminal is portable and will offer — for the most part — identical features to a Bitcoin ATM, although without a vibrant graphical interface.
Some people wonder why they would use a physical card when dealing with a Bitcoin payment terminal. For both sellers and buyers, these cards can be used for funding and spending Bitcoin while in the presence of a terminal. This can be a powerful tool, especially when dealing with recurring customers with whom a trust relationship has been established.
What makes Bitcoin payment terminals so interesting is how they are not bound to one specific place, meaning the owner can take the device anywhere they want to buy and sell Bitcoin on the go. Furthermore, because there is no specific location, there is no paperwork needed to gain access to one specific location, unlike a Bitcoin ATM.
Maintenance costs are also quite low, as a Bitcoin terminal can be diagnosed in the comfort of one’s home. Remote support might be required, but seeing as how these devices offer connectivity to Wi-Fi — and mobile networks in some cases — that shouldn’t be much of a problem either.
Last but not least, there is the topic of pricing. Purchasing a Bitcoin ATM, installing the machine at a certain location, and keeping up with maintenance are all costly matters. Bitcoin payment terminals, on the other hand, are rather inexpensive, do not rely on installation locations, and are easier to maintain. Wireless solutions can bring Bitcoin to the consumer, rather than have the consumer come to Bitcoin.
The major downside to Bitcoin payment terminals is the fact that there are very few companies offering this type of hardware. Coinkite is the biggest player in this market, as its Bitcoin payment terminals are renowned in the Bitcoin ecosystem. But there is also Revel, which offers a variety of point-of-sale solutions, albeit at a far steeper price. XBTerminal, another company active in the Bitcoin payment terminal sector, announced its hardware a while ago, but there is no working prototype available for purchase yet.
A Market Well Worth Exploring?
Everyday consumers want easy and convenient access to Bitcoin, when they want, where they want. Bitcoin ATMs do not provide this level of accessibility, whereas payment terminals do. In fact, one could go as far as saying that Bitcoin payment terminals are an on-demand service, assuming there is proper communication between seller and buyer.
It would be beneficial for the digital currency ecosystem if more companies started focusing on bringing Bitcoin payment terminals to people all over the world. Keeping the pricing of these devices down to a bare minimum will be essential, though, as no one wants to pay over 700 EUR for such a machine.
What are your thoughts on Bitcoin payment terminals versus Bitcoin ATMs? Which one do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Mashable, Coinkite
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