Software Advice, an accounting technology recommendation service, has published results of a survey of accountants and bookkeepers at small to midsize businesses (SMBs) to gauge whether their firms were ready to accept and perform accounting for digital currency.
Fifty percent of respondents said their business was “not at all prepared” to accept digital currency, while 18 percent of SMB employees said they were only “minimally prepared.” Software Advice stated in a report on its research that “this is not surprising, given the more fringe nature of digital currency.”
A combined 32 percent of SMB employees surveyed said their business was prepared to accept and make payments with digital currency: 13 percent said their business was “somewhat prepared,” 10 percent said “very prepared,” and 9 percent said their business was “ahead of the curve” regarding preparedness for using digital currency.
Software Advice also asked respondents to report on their company’s use of digital payment methods. Exactly half of SMB employees said their business was ill-prepared to accept digital payments, such as those made through mobile payment platforms or PayPal. One-third of respondents said they were “not at all prepared” for processing digital payments, and 17 percent felt “minimally prepared.”
Software Advice interviewed Modern Money Letter Editor-in-Chief Steven Lord, who researches Bitcoin and was an early investor, for its report. Lord said firms may be more likely to feel the need to prepare their business should they be exposed to the demand for digital payments and currency regularly. However, he predicts that for now, small enterprises will continue to not emphasize digital-currency adoption.
“Larger companies like PayPal are leading the charge in terms of digital currency adoption, because they have both a greater impact across the ecosystem and because, in many cases, they can experiment with limited acceptance,” said Lord in the report.
The report said that new tools may be removing obstacles to entry for SMBs that think they’re not ready for digital currency and payments. According to PayPal, said the report, the company’s recent integration with BitPay, Coinbase, and GoCoin means businesses that sell digital goods can register a wallet with one of these three digital-currency companies and then simply “turn on” Bitcoin payments through PayPal.
The report stated that PayPal confirms that the platform itself has not gone through much of a change, but larger technological developments are underway for Braintree, a business unit of PayPal and eBay. Braintree’s V.zero SDK will be able to add Coinbase as a payment option, which the report suggested will mean more businesses will be able to customize Bitcoin-ready payment user interfaces, and that has wide implications.
Software Advice’s survey also found that small and midsize businesses are not prepared for changes to accounting practices should they be affected by the use of digital currency, and that they also lack confidence in their accounting software’s ability to handle digital currency.
The company also surveyed American consumers about their digital currency payment practices and their likelihood to use cryptocurrency should it become more broadly accepted.
The report stated that when Software Advice asked consumers which digital payment methods they were currently using, 55 percent of respondents were not using any of the services the company listed.
Among respondents who were using digital payment services, 28 percent said they used PayPal, and one-quarter reported using online bill payment through their bank. Software Advice said its research suggests that use of alternative digital payment providers like PayPal is on par with, and may be surpassing, use of traditional banks for online transactions.
Nearly half of US consumers surveyed (49 percent) said they were “not at all likely” to use digital currency even if it were widely accepted. Another 18 percent said they were “minimally likely” to do so.
However, slightly more than a third of respondents (34 percent) reported that they were either likely to use digital currency if it were to become broadly accepted, or were already using it: 13 percent were “moderately likely” to use a digital currency, 7 percent were “very likely” to do so, 5 percent were “extremely likely,” and 9 percent were already using a digital currency.
Lord told Software Advice that these findings indicate a “core cadre of people who are interested in exploring what [digital currency] is going to be able to do. … The larger consumer-facing payment processing companies beginning to come around to bitcoin is [a] very useful [thing] for broad acceptance with consumers.”
Software Advice said that as it learned from a PayPal spokesperson, the fact that PayPal has integrated with major Bitcoin companies makes it easier for consumers to use the digital currency: “All you need to do is have a bitcoin wallet, and check to see if your favorite PayPal merchant has added bitcoin as a payment option.”
But Lord warned that big brands like PayPal rolling out Bitcoin payments integration will not be sufficient to prompt widespread adoption. He said that Bitcoin needs more time in the circulation trenches, and the P2P networks that maintain the digital currency will need to further develop Bitcoin protocols.
Software Advice collected at least 385 unique responses to two questions posed towards randomly selected adult consumers in the US, giving the company a total of 771 consumer respondents. It also collected at least 385 unique responses to six additional questions from individuals who identified themselves as involved in, or highly knowledgeable about, accounting at their small business (defined as one with up to $100 million in annual revenue), giving Software Advice a total of 2,328 SMB responses.