What it Actually Takes to Accept Cryptocurrency on Your Website
So you’ve decided to do it: you’re joining the growing number of websites that accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment. Congratulations – you’re one of a select breed that has embraced the future of digital payment systems.
Of course, now you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. The idea of incorporating the actual mechanics of adding a crypto checkout option to your website certainly seems overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a straightforward guide to pulling the trigger on your website’s cryptocurrency integration.
Establish a Beachhead
First things first – before you accept your first cryptocurrency payment, you’re going to need a place to store your digital coins. Just as a retail operation can’t accept cash a register to place it in, you can’t hold a cryptocurrency without a way to store it.
Cryptocurrencies of all types are stored in software applications called digital wallets. While some wallets can hold more than one type of cryptocurrency, most are only able to house the digital coin it was designed to. These wallets are, by and large, free to use – you can often download a digital wallet to use on your computer or your mobile phone. Additionally, many companies host web-based digital wallets as well, which you can use in the same way you would use an online banking portal for your fiat currency.
Once you do have a digital wallet, the first step is complete – you’ve established your beachhead. Now, you can send and receive cryptocurrencies to your heart’s content. A word to the wise, though – while a web-based wallet is likely to be the most convenient for you and your site’s customers, you may want to have a secondary offline wallet that resides on your desktop or on a secure memory stick that you periodically transfer your cryptocurrency to. If your web-based wallet is your cash register, this second wallet acts like your bank account or a safe deposit box, as it’s more secure. Just make sure you don’t lose your wallet password, as without it you won’t be able to access your money at all!
Choose Your Integration Method
Now that you’ve got an address in the form of a digital wallet for your customers to send you cryptocurrency payments, it’s time to give them the option of doing so. This means integrating the cryptocurrency of your choice as an accepted payment into your order checkout. In some cases, this might lead to you having to learn to accept bitcoin transactions or whatever another cryptocurrency you choose, and that might take more than a bit of work.
The amount of work you’ll have to do to accomplish this depends on the type of website you have – and how much direct involvement you want in this process. Several content management systems and e-commerce platforms like WordPress and Shopify provide site owners the ability to use plugins to increase their functionality; many of the more popular and well-known cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have available plugins that do much of the hard work for you. These plugins need to simply be configured with the specific address for your digital wallet so that your digital coins are routed properly.
Don’t worry if your website doesn’t offer specific plugin capabilities, though. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to hire a developer or learn any complex coding (unless you want to). There are also third-party providers that can help you manage a cryptocurrency integration in a number of ways, including those that require less specific web development knowledge. An advantage of many of these third-party providers is that they often offer digital wallet services as well in an effort to provide one-stop shopping for site owners new to crypto.
Turn Your Digital Money into Cold, Hard Cash
Once you’ve got your site set up to accept the cryptocurrency of your choice, you’ll need a way to get those electronic coins out of your digital wallet and into your real-world bank account. There are different levels of complexity when it comes to accomplishing this goal, similar to how there were for integration – the quickest and easiest will again involve the use of a third-party service provider.
These providers often offer currency exchange services. For a set fee, they will convert a specific amount of cryptocurrency into the fiat currency of your choice – US dollars, euros, etc. – and deposit it to an outside account. Depending on the service, you can have this fiat money sent directly to a bank account or another payment provider like PayPal. Additionally, some of these providers even offer Visa or MasterCard-branded debit cards that will convert crypto to whatever fiat cash you need for a specific purchase, though again you will be subject to a set fee.
For those who don’t want to use a third-party provider – or for those who are using a cryptocurrency that isn’t supported by one of these providers – the best way to convert your crypto to cold, hard cash is through an online cryptocurrency exchange. You can transfer cryptocurrency from your wallet to this exchange, sell it at a specific exchange rate for a different specific currency, and then transfer the funds you receive to a bank account.
The advantages to using an exchange site are that site fees are often less than through a third-party service. Additionally, you have more control over the rate of exchange, as it’s a peer-to-peer transaction and not going through a middleman. However, using an exchange can take much longer if no one wants to buy your crypto at the posted price.
Choose Your Own Adventure
In the end, there are many different paths you can take when it comes to actually setting up your website to accept cryptocurrencies. Whether it’s selecting your specific cryptocurrency, choosing the specific digital wallet you want to use, deciding the type of integration method you’ll be working with, and picking the method you’ll use to exchange your cryptocurrency for fiat money, the choices you can make are nearly endless.
Ultimately, the choice is yours and will depend on how comfortable you are with the intricacies of cryptocurrency and website design in general. However, whichever choice you do make, you can rest assured that your website is prepared for whatever the future may hold when it comes to accepting these different digital currencies.
Catherine Tims is the owner of Ivy League Content. After receiving her Master’s degree in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Arizona, she taught writing to graduate students at the University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana. She has her own writing business, Ivy League Content, and freelances full time for business clients who need highly-researched articles.