Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/should-you-accept-bitcoin/
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:
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.Continue reading this article on SitePoint