Bitcoin and a Steak Dinner: What Restaurant Owners Need to Know

Ever experienced a deep moment of hunger for some good ole red meat? Did you act on it?

I had this experience recently. Problem was, the only money I had available was in the form of a much talked about digital currency called bitcoin. So in a moment of desperation, I pulled out my mobile phone and decided to investigate how I could satiate this food desire using cryptocurrency.

A quick Internet search yielded a means of pulling off this feat – an app called Gyft. I downloaded it and began to search their list of restaurants for a place to indulge in a juicy burger. Lo and behold, Morton’s, one of my all-time favorite steakhouses pops ups. “Awesome, I thought. Now for the dreaded moment of figuring out how to purchase a Morton’s Gyft Card with bitcoin.”

Via the app, I proceeded to select the amount that I wanted to load onto the digital card. Next, I chose the “pay with bitcoin” option. I entered the payment address in the bitcoin wallet payment field and shazam, a Morton’s Gyft card suddenly appeared on my phone.

But Will My Payment Go Through?

In full disclosure, I was nervous that payment from the Gyft app on my phone might fail. And then I’d be in a world of hurt because I had $4.33 in cash and no credit or debit cards on me. All I could think of is “this could turn into a long night of washing dishes.” So I ordered an appetizer consisting of mini steak burgers and a couple of cocktails. My thinking here – “At a $30.00 tab, I could get away with rinsing off a few plates and a couple of pans to satisfy my bill if need be.” Fortunately, it didn’t come to that – a quick scan of my Morton’s Gyft card by the Morton’s server and I was on my way home satiated.

Have you ever been on a date where you were unsure as to whether your credit card would be declined? Well, this is what this experience felt like. Nevertheless, being solo that evening, I had plenty of time between bites and sips to ponder the larger implications of this bitcoin experiment for the restaurant world. And what I discovered was sobering.

Why Restaurants Should Accept Bitcoin

If you’re a restaurant owner that’s reticent about accepting bitcoin (nothing against Gyft, but merchants can accept it directly) then I encourage you to grab a glass of wine and read on. Here are just a few of the benefits I jotted down on a napkin while scarfing down my meal.

1. Speed of Transaction

In a restaurant world often saddled with tight profit margins, immediate cash flow is vital. The problem with credit cards is that the funds you receive from patrons paying their bill can remain locked up for a few days or more before settling. With bitcoin, your monies arrive rapidly, typically within an hour or less depending on the size of the transaction and other factors. And contrary to popular belief, fluctuating prices are no longer an albatross for businesses as bitcoin can be immediately converted to cash and deposited into your account.

2. Lower Transaction Costs

A major hidden expense for many restaurants are fees for credit and debit card transactions that can run anywhere from 2-5% plus a .30 per swipe. That can take a bigger bite out of your profit margin than a ravenous customer who forgets to pay his bill. The good news is that bitcoin transactions register in at 0-1%. which can be major savings for a restaurant. This is particularly true if you run a small mom and pop operation. What’s nice is that these savings can then be passed on to the consumer in the form of discounts.

3. International Reach

With foreign tourism serving as a robust source of restaurant patrons, you could be missing out on huge opportunities by not accepting bitcoin. Many international visitors are hip to the fact that bitcoin allows them to avoid pricey currency transfer fees. And given bitcoin’s popularity in places like Asia, Australia, and Europe, the use of it is not foreign to them – no pun intended.

4. Consumer Privacy

Charge card security breaches have become all too common in the world of commerce. Bitcoin offers a strong shield of protection for both merchants and consumers along this front. Moreover, it provides an unparalleled form of identity-theft protection that credit cards can’t offer. This can become a key element for protecting consumer information.

5. Publicity and Buzz

I personally believe that this is an underrated marketing tool for restaurants. A “Bitcoin Accepted Here” sign prominently displayed on your website or store window can arouse interest in a crowded local dining market – one where restaurants are often vying for the same patrons. Moreover, when combined with a bitcoin cash remittance machine, this strategy offers a winning formula for boosting new and repeat customers.

Here at CoinStructive we pride ourselves in assisting restaurants and other merchants with the integration of cryptocurrency into their strategic expansion efforts. We invite you to join our conversation as we explore ways to boost customer experience through bitcoin commerce. Let us know your thoughts. And be sure to check back here for additional stories on how you and your business can be a part of the rapidly growing bitcoin economy movement.

Michael Scott is a journalist specializing in emerging digital economy trends and CoinStructive’s resident blogger.