9 Ways A Merchant Will Benefit From Blockchain

Apart from accepting cryptocurrencies, there are many many benefits merchants can derive from use of blockchain and the good of crypto. Basically, for beginners, a blockchain will record immutable data and transactions including money transfer, a contract between two parties, or an order shipment. This data is updated on a distributed ledger without a single point of failure (no centralization) and users can still set up custom rules to define the nature and type of transactions.

For instance, when discussing possibility of accepting crypto payments in your business and how to do it, many crypto payment gateways now already provide ready-to-use solutions such as e-commerce plugins, embeddable payment buttons, payment processing APIs, mobile POS app, ability to use third-party wallets such as Jaxx to move funds and withdraw, invoice generation, and other payment integration tools, as well as support for latest technologies such as SegWit addresses.

For instance, you can easily get plugins and extensions for WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, nopCommerce, and OpenCart. Besides, a number of them are partnering with e-commerce platforms and point-of-sale systems for integration and easier cheaper processing of payments. You could start with this list of different crypto payment gateways and their different features. Most of them actually support hundreds of coins and different fiat currencies including several local options so it can never be too hard to accept crypto payments.

Other than payment platforms that allow you to accept crypto payments, there are numerous blockchain platforms that let you create real custom application and tech to work for you and your business such as smart contracts, and even others that allow merchants to advertise business and market their products, exchange their coins with fiat and other cryptocoins, boost their loyalty programs and even track their supply and boost supply chains.

There are many blockchains today and the technology is still evolving. So, apart from the ordinary benefits of using cryptocurrencies such as low fees on transactions and discounts, ability to settle transactions almost immediately, and escrows for home mortgage, we have the below benefits of blockchain, here are some benefits your business can get by using blockchain.

1. Boosting mobile payments

Mobile payments can facilitate quick business and commercial transactions and on-the-go especially when you link with crypto on blockchain because crypto facilitates immediate settlements. No delays. There are different payment gateways that work for mobile; Android and iOS and which uses QR Code, NFC or URL payment options. Also, basically, if your website is mobile versatile, integrating gateways will allow sending of cryptocurrencies and some of the gateways have in-built wallet and feature to allow exchanging of currency.

Otherwise, it is also possible to use the many mobile applications that allow to send payments to addresses. With payment gateways such as CoinPayments, you can use mobile apps to accept payments in over 445 altcoins for only 0.50 percent fees and add buttons to your merchant website using button makers, shopping cart buttons and donation buttons. It is also allows for auto conversion of coins and altcoins inside the ecosystem and also get fiat settlements via local banks.

Coingate, which has seen has seen over 800 payments processed daily, also has an Android and iOS point of sale that allows businesses to accept Bitcoin payments on mobile devices. COSS.io also has an Android in addition to a web-based app and offers exchange of EUR, USD, Singapore Dollar, Malaysian Ringit, Korean Won, Romanian Leu, and many others) to crypto.

2. Making loyalty programs less costly and of higher ROI

Loyalty programs are one of the primary drivers of any for-profit business. Different companies can use the blockchain to facilitate accrual of loyalty points and redemption of them on the platforms. Today, businesses are together spending as much as $20 billion on software that improves the ROI of loyalty schemes. In addition, loyalty programs have traditionally been hard to set-up and they are costly to maintain, leading to several abandonment.

Blockchain can be used to improve these programs and create more value for retailers, consumers, the community and investors. BitRewards, for instance, provides a wallet and a crypto and the platform can be used to transfers value into tokens and credits. Users receive offers from stores with which they can join loyalty programs and spend more to earn rewards in tokens and their value will also grow with the network.

And with the average conversion of traffic into purchases in e-commerce coming to about 1% to 3% and the cost of acquiring a new customer being between 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, retailers can use the platform to reduce these expenses and earning more ROI. With it, retailers can avoid providing rewards-focused support to their customers because the company will do.

Delloitte report on use and benefits of blockchain for loyalty programs say companies (and merchants) can use it to reduce system management costs using "smart contracts that report secure, tracked, transparent transactions to legacy systems, reducing costs associated with errors and fraud." It can also help to build an interlinked loyalty network, large loyalty rewards program providers and this can offer added value to their and other businesses.

Also, the customer is able to access and manage rewards frictionlessly including deciding how and with whom customers can use these rewards. This include possibility of transferring rewards in real time and faster as well as providing a secure environment (making of irreversible transactions, preventing double spending, fraud and abuse).

3. Automating and improving accuracy, speed of supply chain

An immense advantage accrues to retailers who use blockchain to trace products from the manufacturer, to the distributor, and finally to a retailer’s warehouse. Tracking helps to avoid tampering or losses or raising of alerts in case of an health issue.

First, it can help with greater automation and removing of paperwork and inaccuracies on freight invoice data (10 percent of freight invoices have inaccurate data that leads to other inefficiencies in the industry). Improved automation would finally improve payment automation and ownership transfer.

The current supply chain often creates low transparency, non-standardized processes, data silos and diverse levels of technology adoption and blockchain can help to enable data transparency and access among relevant supply chain stakeholders, creating a single source of truth according to a report by DHL and Accenture on use of blockchain in supply chains.

Blockchain would also facilitate more trust among supply chains by its secure distributed nature as well as ability to provide error-free flow of goods. It can also help remove the many frictions caused as different parties interact, communicate and transact. It would certainly help them collaborate more. The track-and-trace capabilities enable for transparency and traceability of products regarding where they are coming from, legality -- whether counterfeit or not, and information helpful to customers such as whether they are preserved as per conditions and if they are ethically sourced.

4. Proving authenticity of products

Blockchain would make it easier to confirm authenticity of products on and after transit. This can be helpful for luxury goods and one-of-a-kind merchandise, such as art, or time-sensitive items, such as concert tickets.

According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), counterfeit and pirated goods will drain $4.2trn from the global economy and will put 5.4mn legitimate jobs at risk by 2022. There is no doubt on the negative impacts of counterfeits to companies. Information is recorded at every stage about the source, handling and condition of the products will be immutable on blockchain. Sweetbridge, for instance, is a blockchain accounting protocol that will help record and trace the origins of products and help firms fight counterfeits.

5. Creating custom smart contracts

Blockchain can help companies to create and manage different types of smart contracts that serve their needs. These self-executing lines of codes based on agreement between counter-parties help eliminate human error, reduce costs of transactions, reduce chances of manual handling and its possibilities for human errors and conflicts, as well making transactions faster.

Businesses can benefit from the accuracy and automation of the contracts, transparency, trustlessness, speed, security and clear communication, efficiency, backup and avoiding of paperwork, benefits that arise with use of smart contracts.

6. Identity management and intellectual protection

Identity management is much more easier, accurate and low cost on blockchain and there are many financial organizations using this capability. We have detailed several projects working on things that relate to management of identity on the blockchain but basically, ID management on blockchain involves creation of a digital ID and storage of it on decentralized computer systems, giving users the control and ability to determine who they want to share ID with.

More important for firms, for instance, would be to secure financial systems against fake identities by having immutable (permanent or un-deletable and unalterable sort of) records of IDs and making it easier to verify user identity on platforms. Obviously, centralized storage that still do not use blockchain are more prone to compromise and use of data is almost always compromised or misused even internally because essentially someone is always trusted to handle, store and distribute as well as share it. Think governments and the way they work. 

A firm can also use blockchain to make secure digital rights of property and copy rights etc.

With these digital IDs on blockchain, for instance, people can do peer-to-peer arbitration, become citizens (for instance the idea of World Citizenship Passport on BitNation), notarize their marriages, birth certificates, business contracts and do more. The IDs are not only stored on a more secure network thanks to blockchain encryption, but also when shared buy their owners to organizations, it can help identify and eliminate fake identities. It has also been tried in education award circles.

You might also want to check some social networking platforms/projects that incentivize their network of users for sharing such data and information. Some other social networks based on blockchain, for instance, might also have some good value for marketers and advertisers. 

7. Crowdfunding

Many firms are already utilizing blockchain and cryptocurrencies in their funding campaigns with several benefits. For instance, cryptocurrencies and blockchain facilitates tokenization of assets and companies are able to raise funds quickly and easily.

So a company could think of an ICO or an hybrid model of fund raising, which combines VC/PE (venture capital/private equity) funding and ICOs, and is increasing in popularity.

8. Advertising products/finding users 

Blockchain has been used to create ad platforms which retailers and marketers can use with added advantages of lowering advertising costs and fraud, as well as incentivizing viewers, which comes with increased viewership, conversion and loyalty.

9. Selling in marketplaces

Blockchain marketplaces allow for advertising, direct selling, peer-to-peer sharing and transactions which eliminates third parties making transactions faster, less costly for both customers and retailers, among other benefits.

David Kariuki

David Kariuki likes to regard himself as a freelance tech journalist who has written and writes widely about a variety of tech issues that affect our society daily, including cryptocurrencies (see cryptomorrow.com and coinpedia.org); climate change (cleanleap.com), OpenSim and virtual reality (see hypergridbusiness.com). He is currently pursuing a MSc in Environmental Management at Open University. He does write here not to offer any investment advise but with the intention of informing audience, and articles in here are of his own opinion. Anyone willing to use any opinion here as advise to invest in crypto should obviously take own responsibility and accountability of their losses (or benefits) thereof. You can reach me at eqariu@gmail.com or david@cryptomorrow.com