Digital Business in 2022 and Beyond
By Chris Collier
You polish off your fish and chips at one of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’s 30-plus locations. It’s time to pick up the tab and you’re buying for the booth. Your pockets are free of metal coins and your wallet is bare of crumpled dollar bills. The server approaches the table with a BitPay invoice QR code that you scan for payment. Digital Bitcoins flow from your phone into your waiter’s pocket. This is a dining experience that Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta is working to make a reality. Landry’s owns a number of restaurant chains, including Morton’s The Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Mastro’s.
Ten of Mastro’s locations—one of Landry’s upscale concepts—accept Bitcoin as payment. The current tally stands after Fertitta announced in April 2021 that most of his restaurant chain’s brands would accept Bitcoin.
But Fertitta isn’t the sole Bitcoin believer; its relevance is rising. Microsoft has allowed gamers to purchase Xbox store cards with the digitized payment since 2014 and handymen and women can spend the currency at Home Depot. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4474 into law in June 2021. The law amends the state’s Business and Commerce Code to recognize cryptocurrencies and defines a “virtual currency as a digital representation of value that is not *legal tender and is used as a medium of exchange or a store of value.” In September 2021, El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a national currency.
*Cryptocurrency, or ‘crypto,’ is climbing its way into the current day; what seems futuristic is becoming conventional. The world of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin is facilitated and expanded by society’s contactless trends. What does it mean for your auto glass repair and replacement business?
Cryptocurrency is a payment type that can be exchanged online for goods and services, according to NerdWallet. Many cryptocurrencies function using *blockchain, a decentralized technology spread across computers that manages and records transactions. The currency is nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend because it is secured by *cryptography, according to Investopedia.
Bitcoin was the first crypto to hit the market when it launched on Jan. 3, 2009. There are more than 16,600 different cryptocurrencies being traded publicly in 2022, according to CoinMarketCap.
But how does one buy—or invest in—crypto? It starts with picking a crypto exchange or broker. A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where the currency can be traded among buyers and sellers, according to Forbes. Coinbase, Gemini and Binance.US, are well-known cryptocurrency exchanges. Some feel cryptocurrency brokers are more user-friendly, featuring less complex interfaces than exchanges. Two of the most notable crypto brokers include Robinhood and SoFi— these names might ring a bell.
Where can crypto investors spend their hard-earned Dogecoin? According to CO—a digital platform from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—small businesses can use BitPay and CoinBase Commerce for payment. CO says that these processors typically offer a 1% or less transaction fee. Consider Coinbase. “After selling to your Coinbase *fiat wallet, you can opt to either cash out funds to your U.S. bank account or repurchase cryptocurrency on the platform,” says its website.
Forty-seven percent of consumers say they will not shop at a store that doesn’t offer a contactless payment method, according to Visa’s 2021 Back to Business Study. The study also cites that 44% of small businesses believe contactless, or other mobile payment acceptance, is a critical investment area. Fifty-one percent of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment, which includes tap-to-go credit cards and mobile wallets like Apple Pay, according to Mastercard’s Contactless Consumer Polling.
Auto glass companies are meeting their consumers halfway, bringing several payment options to the table. COVID’s arrival prompted swift adaptation from businesses throughout the industry. For Ed & Sons Glass Shop Inc. in Maple Shade, N.J., transformation involved a socially-distanced payment upgrade.
“Prior to [the pandemic], we did not have a PIN pad,” says Danielle Woods, office manager of Ed & Sons Glass Shop Inc. “With COVID, we did obtain a PIN pad so we didn’t have to touch anybody’s cards.”
Ninety percent of business transactions at Genuine Auto Glass in Seattle, Wash., are facilitated by digital methods. One-tenth of the company’s payments come in physical choices such as cash. Vice president/general manager Jeff Crane says, “Nobody wants cash because they think it’s covered up in [COVID]. . . . Our technicians have mobile tablets in their vans, so they’re able to run credit cards on-site.”
TJ Tirado owns Windshield Fitters Inc. in Houston, Texas, and Rock Chip USA LLC, in Katy, Texas. He’s seen cash and check usage drop to 5% during the pandemic. The company’s accepted slate of Cash App, Venmo and Zelle allows Tirado and his team to avoid the potential dangers of handling physical payments.
“We don’t want to touch the actual paper,” Tirado says. “You never know— it can be contaminated. That’s what made us decide to change to more digital payments.”
For Decatur, Ga.’s, Accuracy Auto Glass, COVID caused a sharp drop-off in cash payments. Before the pandemic, 40% of the company’s transactions were cash. Now, they’re a meager 5%. President James Young gains perspective when he puts himself in his customers’ shoes. “I think of myself—I rarely go to the ATM now, [and] I rarely carry cash,” Young says. “I could see it going to zero at [some] point.”
The Future is Now
Payment trends are evolving. Cash wasn’t a payment option at the 2021 Super Bowl—a historical first. Companies like Apple, Venmo and Paypal hold market share today, but Crypto could very well rule tomorrow. Or they could share the throne—Coinbase Visa debit
cards will now work with Apple Pay and Google Pay, per a June 2021 announcement. Young, Woods and Crane are neutral towards the technology, citing limited exposure and knowledge.
The situation differs for Tirado, who used the initial pandemic-spurred shutdown in 2020 to formulate new business strategies and scan the global financial landscape. When the dust settled, crypto was a part of his personal portfolio and potentially his two companies’ future plans. “I’ve always wanted to invest in the market,” Tirado says. “I started researching it because I had time.”
Tirado’s time was well spent—he doubled his initial investment. The veteran, whose investments include Bitcoin and Ethereum, says, “I think I’m going to keep it long term—for the next five years. You have to study the market and see what’s happening. I look at it every single day.”
Barry Lintner, owner of Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola, Fla., began his personal investments more than a year ago. His portfolio includes Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, XRP and Stellar Lumens. Coinbase is where he scans his assets, which are propelled by thousands of dollars and backed by a repetitive methodology. “I watch it grow, take my profit, and then I take that profit and invest it in another coin. I’m buying more with the money that I’ve made on the last ones,” Lintner says.
Jacques Navant is the technical director for Don’s Mobile Glass in Modesto, Calif., The Calibration Station in Modesto, Calif., and frogitout. He’s not a personal investor and his companies don’t accept cryptocurrency, but he’s headed into the future with an open mind. “We most likely will incorporate it in the future, but not the immediate future,” Navant says. “I think it’s unavoidable; eventually, it’s going to be part of our lives. As it sits right now, I think the general public doesn’t know enough about it.”
Tirado’s business team has discussed the potentiality of accepting cryptocurrency in the future. Daniela and Tino Ortiz, owners of 777 Autoglass in Sacramento, Calif., are beginning to become intrigued, too. “I [don’t] have enough information about it, but as time goes by, I hear more about it,” Tino Ortiz says. “My wife and I decided that we are going to make room in our schedule to get information about this and see if we can get into it. There is a 7-Eleven right down the street from my house, and they accept crypto. If it’s something we can implement into our business, I most definitely will.”
When asked if cryptocurrency will be a future payment option in the auto glass industry, Lintner answered without hesitation. His company doesn’t currently accept the currency but says industry companies will eventually accept it because of a lack of choice.
“I think it’s going to be a future payment option for everything,” Lintner says. “It’s like the other growth that’s attached to technology. It’s exponential. What took 10 years then took a year; what took a year then took a month; what took a month now takes a week; what took a week now takes a day. That’s the way technology is advancing.”
The Digital Age Defined
Legal tender (noun): Money that is legally valid for the payment of debts and must be accepted for that purpose when offered.
Cryptocurrency (noun): Any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions.
Blockchain (noun): A digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.
Cryptography (noun): The enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code or cipher.
Fiat money (noun): Money (such as paper currency) not convertible into coin or specie of equivalent value.
Source: All definitions courtesy of the dictionary by Merriam-Webster
Coins in Command
The five biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap https://coinmarketcap.com/
Cryptocurrency | Market Capitalization
(1)—Bitcoin: $794 billion plus
(2)—Ethereum: $380 billion plus
(3)—Tether: $78 billion plus
(4)—Binance Coin: $75 billion plus
(5)—Solana: $43 billion plus
Chris Collier is a contributing editor for AGRR magazine.
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