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Author Topic: E-mailing merchants to ask if they can accept Bitcoin  (Read 712 times)
Elwar
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September 30, 2011, 03:36:53 PM
 #1

I am going on vacation in a month in Costa Rica so I started e-mailing local hotels and B&Bs asking if they accept Bitcoins or if they have never heard of them if they would check them out as I want to use Bitcoins for my trip.

Most of my responses were along the lines of "We only accept credit cards or cash".

I did get one response that said she had looked into Bitcoin and found it quite interesting, but that they were a new business and needed to have cash. I replied with a short message saying that bit-pay allows you to accept Bitcoin and have it automatically converted to cash, cheaper than a credit card. (this was yesterday, no response yet).


So I was wondering...what if more people started e-mailing these merchants? If someone were to get an e-mail once a week or so from someone asking if they accept Bitcoins, they may give it some careful consideration.

What if we put together an e-mail group or something where people offer up e-mails of places they would like to go spend their Bitcoins with a small description, then have several different people periodically send e-mails. Hotels, bars, restaurants, stores, websites, whichever. Maybe set up a program so that once someone e-mails a merchant the e-mail goes to the bottom of the list and does not come up until everyone else has been e-mailed (so they do not get 10 e-mails in one day asking about Bitcoins).

These would be places that people would actually want to spend their Bitcoins, so it is not like the merchant would start accepting them and then nobody uses them.

Thoughts?

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nmat
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September 30, 2011, 04:03:31 PM
 #2

I replied with a short message saying that bit-pay allows you to accept Bitcoin and have it automatically converted to cash, cheaper than a credit card.

Unfortunately, bit-pay can only pay in cash if the business is US based. Also, I'm not sure about the "cheaper than a credit card part". They charge some fees for the service...
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September 30, 2011, 04:07:42 PM
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I've been asking merchants this for months, but bluntly said, nobody seems to give a shit they are all in the line of "PayPal, Creditcard or gtfo"
Sad though...

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bearbones
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September 30, 2011, 04:08:50 PM
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I am going on vacation in a month in Costa Rica so I started e-mailing local hotels and B&Bs asking if they accept Bitcoins or if they have never heard of them if they would check them out as I want to use Bitcoins for my trip.

Most of my responses were along the lines of "We only accept credit cards or cash".

I did get one response that said she had looked into Bitcoin and found it quite interesting, but that they were a new business and needed to have cash. I replied with a short message saying that bit-pay allows you to accept Bitcoin and have it automatically converted to cash, cheaper than a credit card. (this was yesterday, no response yet).


So I was wondering...what if more people started e-mailing these merchants? If someone were to get an e-mail once a week or so from someone asking if they accept Bitcoins, they may give it some careful consideration.

What if we put together an e-mail group or something where people offer up e-mails of places they would like to go spend their Bitcoins with a small description, then have several different people periodically send e-mails. Hotels, bars, restaurants, stores, websites, whichever. Maybe set up a program so that once someone e-mails a merchant the e-mail goes to the bottom of the list and does not come up until everyone else has been e-mailed (so they do not get 10 e-mails in one day asking about Bitcoins).

These would be places that people would actually want to spend their Bitcoins, so it is not like the merchant would start accepting them and then nobody uses them.

Thoughts?

I love the email campaign idea. We've been building tools into btcinch for expressly this purpose. How does this sound: in addition to sending them a pitch about accepting Bitcoin, you also send some change to each in the same email. This is an immediate call to action, and opportunity to experiment.

We've been perfecting this technique with the help of Memory Dealers, and can now send to email lists of any size, with any design. Perhaps we can team up to make this campaign as effective as possible?

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Coinapult Send Bitcoins easily over email or text message
Steve
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September 30, 2011, 04:31:58 PM
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Thanks for mentioning bit-pay.com.  I think you have to be careful with this type of marketing.  Marketing is most effective when your audience is already keenly aware of some need they have and you have a solution that addresses that need well.  In that case, the target of the marketing effort is actually grateful to have learned about your solution.  However, if the person doesn't perceive themselves to have a need for what you're selling and you're too presumptive (i.e. "What! You mean you don't accept the currency that 0.001% of the people on Earth use!  What's wrong with you?"), too incessant, or too forceful, then they just become annoyed and resentful.  Also, even if the person believes an alternative money is a good idea, bitcoin is not really ready for the non technical user just yet.  So, such a person might give it a try and then be quickly turned off for a number of reasons and that could actually harm bitcoin's reputation.  Also, a merchant that starts accepting bitcoin needs to have appropriate expectations about their likely volume of bitcoin sales (0.001% wasn't just a figure I made up, it was an estimate).  

I think it's good to let merchants that you deal with know about bitcoin's existence (blasting unsolicited emails out to random merchants probably isn't a good idea), but if there's no response, I would just drop it and not keep pestering them about it...you've already achieved the most important objective.



(gasteve on IRC) Does your website accept cash? https://bitpay.com
Elwar
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September 30, 2011, 04:38:41 PM
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 However, if the person doesn't perceive themselves to have a need for what you're selling and you're too presumptive (i.e. "What! You mean you don't accept the currency that 0.001% of the people on Earth use!  What's wrong with you?"), too incessant, or too forceful, then they just become annoyed and resentful.  

I agree, I tried to be as non-pushy as possible.

Quote
Thank you for the response. My wife actually owns a boutique (http://www.heidijosboutique.com) and we have worked with a company called bit-pay http://www.bit-pay.com
we use them to do Bitcoin transactions easily over her cell phone. They have it set up so that you can get paid either in Bitcoin or they will
convert it to cash for you and transfer it to your bank account.

No, I am not affiliated with bit-pay. I just like how easy it is to pay through them.

I can understand about needing cash. Same with my wife's store. Wholesalers need cash.

I am hoping to pay for most of my stay in Bitcoins as that is my "play money". Your resort looks like it would be very relaxing.

http://www.bitpools.com
Pool your bitcoins with others. Vote on solutions using the Bitcoin blockchain. Keep your bitcoins in your cold storage until you find a solution you like.
Links and Reviews of useful every day places to spend bitcoins: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=943143.0
Steve
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September 30, 2011, 04:41:17 PM
 #7

I replied with a short message saying that bit-pay allows you to accept Bitcoin and have it automatically converted to cash, cheaper than a credit card.

Unfortunately, bit-pay can only pay in cash if the business is US based. Also, I'm not sure about the "cheaper than a credit card part". They charge some fees for the service...
That's correct, we can only payout USD to US based businesses at the moment.  Our fees are 0.99% if you take bitcoin as your payout and 2.99% if you take USD payouts.  The 2.99% figure is substantially cheaper than credit cards, especially for small merchants accepting credit cards online.  Credit card processors will advertise their "discount" rate, but that rate only applies to the most ideal of scenarios and doesn't include a lot of other fees they'll charge you (setup fees, monthly fees, minimums, chargebacks, dispute resolution, support, etc).  On top of that, we're starting to see banks introduce more fees on the consumer side.

(gasteve on IRC) Does your website accept cash? https://bitpay.com
Elwar
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September 30, 2011, 04:41:52 PM
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I replied with a short message saying that bit-pay allows you to accept Bitcoin and have it automatically converted to cash, cheaper than a credit card.

Unfortunately, bit-pay can only pay in cash if the business is US based. Also, I'm not sure about the "cheaper than a credit card part". They charge some fees for the service...

I do realize that they pay in USD, but the owner seemed like an American who opened a business down there. And she mentioned in her e-mail that "We don’t like credit cards much (fees are outrageous from the IP address here in CR)".

http://www.bitpools.com
Pool your bitcoins with others. Vote on solutions using the Bitcoin blockchain. Keep your bitcoins in your cold storage until you find a solution you like.
Links and Reviews of useful every day places to spend bitcoins: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=943143.0
Stephen Gornick
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September 30, 2011, 05:31:43 PM
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There are some businesses that are great candidates for accepting Bitcoin as payment.  The online travel-booking industry is one that should be all over bitcoin, for instance as margins are razor-thin and saving the 3% payment-card fee could significantly increase their profits.

But established companies generally aren't the first movers.  What will likely need to happen first is for there to be some brilliant entrepreneur from some unheard of corner of the world who uses Bitcoin as a competitive advantage in a challenging space and cleans up as a result.  All it takes is one earnings report crediting Bitcoin as the reason for a great growth story and things could start to get interesting for the currency.

For recruiting additional merchants, however, perhaps an approach that would work would be to attain pledges to conduct a certain volume of business before making the pitch to the merchants.  Of course, with a geographically dispersed community this approach remains very difficult.  There was at one time a group-buying site for Bitcoin, http://www.MetaCo.in which might have caught on but the service has not returned after being shuttered when they could no longer use the shopping cart system that they had been using (MyBitcoin's).

The opportunity does exist ... there are today thousands of bitcoins being converted each day into fiat and subsequently used for purchases.   There is value lost in performing that exchange and many of those holding bitcoin would gladly use bitcoin for their spendiing.   The problem is this spending is not concentrated geographically or in specific categories so there aren't many merchants that are really missing out by not accepting Bitcoin today.  We are a great distance from the tipping point where merchants are clamoring to begin accepting bitcoin organically though services such as BTC Buy ( http://www.btcbuy.info ) appear to do decent volume by providing a bridge between these merchants and Bitcoiners.  http://Bit-Pay.com is another promising development which will likely spur additional adoption.

We can help spur adoption ourselves as consumers by patronizing at every opportunity merchants who do accept bitcoin already.  http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Real_world_shopshttp://searchbitcoin.com | http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Trade

One tool that might prove useful is the Casascius physical bitcoin.  Though it is not suitable (in its current incarnation) for use like traditional coinage it does work well as a conversation starter and can help to describe how bitcoin can be used by those without a computer even.  http://www.casascius.com

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