Should You Accept Bitcoin?

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Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin have been one of the most controversial topics in recent times. However, despite being popular in the media, few professionals fully understand the mechanics of these systems. Fortunately, when viewed at a high level, the concepts are simple to understand for almost any business owner.

A Brief Overview of Bitcoin Mechanics


Cryptocurrency has an extensive history that dates back to before Bitcoin made its debut in 2007, however the focus here is on Bitcoin due to it being the dominant cryptocurrency in the digital world. Unlike traditional currencies that are backed by governments or gold, Bitcoin is entirely independent of government involvement. Rather than being stored in banks, Bitcoin transfers occur entirely from person to person resulting in much lower transaction fees than traditional systems. Transaction fees are optional on the Bitcoin network, although if a user chooses to pay, the amount is almost negligible.

The Bitcoin algorithm is set to only allow 20 million Bitcoins to be created. As a way to keep the value of Bitcoin at acceptable levels, Bitcoins have to be “mined” in order to be added to the general pool. Mining simply involves having a computer run a Bitcoin client to solve complex math problems. Bitcoins are awarded to the user who is first to solve the equations. While the logistics of Bitcoin are quite extensive, one thing you need to remember is that governments tend to frown on Bitcoin as it’s completely decentralized.

The Disadvantages of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a fairly new currency, and there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t replace your native currency just yet:

Regulatory issues

In almost every major country, the taxation rules of Bitcoin have yet to be written and in some cases where rules exist, they tend to penalize Bitcoin holders. Some nations such as Norway and China have banned Bitcoin entirely. As Bitcoin falls primarily under financial scrutiny you should check with your country’s tax authority or tax professional to ensure that accepting Bitcoin as payment is going to be beneficial for your business.

Fraud and Chaos

Since traditional banks will not touch Bitcoin due to it being a major competitor, Bitcoin users have been forced to store their wealth in a digital wallets (the virtual equivalent of stashing it under a mattress), or in a third-party entity. Unfortunately, storing money in a local wallet often is risky since malware can be used to steal a user’s Bitcoins, or if the file is corrupted or lost, they are lost for good.

Cloud based wallets emerged as a way to provide portability and piece of mind to users, however in the absence of regulations to keep these exchanges accountable, storing Bitcoin within these exchanges is a recipe for disaster. The recent collapse of Mt. Gox, formerly the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world illustrates the significant risks when it comes to using any cryptocurrency.

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In Australia BitCoin etc do not fall under the definition of a currency and are therefore treated as goods on which GST needs to be paid on each transaction.

For BitCoins to be able to be treated as a currency they would either need to be the official currency of a country or a 150 year old Australian law defining what a currency is would need to be changed.

With the Australian government collecting 1/11th of the BitCoin value every time it is used for a transaction in Australia it wouldn’t require many transactions for the government to own most of the BitCoins in Australia…

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Interesting point. I know in the US, Bitcoin also is taxed as property to get around it not being considered a legitimate currency (due to the lack of government backing).

As far as the government holding the Bitcoin,I would imagine that they would be converting it immediately to their currency, so the Bitcoin would then be held by the payment processor.

That being said, I never thought of the impact of a single party just collecting a cut of every transaction from a finite pool of resources. I know Bitcoin are constantly being released into the pool - however I believe the cap of 20 million will be reached next year or maybe 2020 - I forget which one.

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