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Interview with business owners on the pros and cons of using Bitcoin for both traditional businesses and black market operations.
During its early adoption phase, Bitcoin was frequently associated with black market uses, most notoriously the Silk Road. Today, CoinMap.org lists over 7,000 businesses employing Bitcoin worldwide.
CoinTelegraph talked to several business owners, both legal and extralegal, about their use of Bitcoin.
Dr. Darren Tapp, Ph.D., a mathematics professor who teaches mainly homeschooled children, started using bitcoin as a toy.
“As I learned more about it, I started to realize that bitcoin or something like it will change the future.”
He believes accepting Bitcoin helps him retain certain clients who pay with it exclusively.
Matthew Ping, a property manager who manages several rental units in the Manchester, New Hampshire area, adopted Bitcoin to facilitate the rent payment process.
“There was a market demand for it in Manchester and I’m intrigued by the technology. As a property manager I received the request to accept bitcoin because some of my residents get paid in bitcoin. I want to make it easier and less expensive for my residents to pay rent on time.”
And largely, this has helped Ping’s business, since he can receive on-time payments when residents are traveling anywhere in the world, without accruing an additional transaction cost or waiting for a check to arrive. However, he doesn’t see using Bitcoin as being without complications.
“It is sometimes difficult because the mortgage lenders and vendors don’t accept bitcoin yet. The rent payments have to be converted by using a service like Bitpay or Coinbase which make the facilitation much easier but still somewhat of a hassle.”
Ping seeks to operate in complete compliance with all local governmental regulations for the security of his business.
“I operate my business above ground because I am a licensed Real Estate Broker. I follow all rules and regulations set forth by the state and I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my livelihood.”
Dr. Tapp also operates above ground and reports income etc. to all applicable authorities, but admittedly faces less regulatory hurdles than Ping.
“The whole point of my project is to provide services outside of a highly regulated industry. Since I do not offer any certification, I am not a school, and I do not claim to be accredited there are no applicable regulations to comply with.”
On the other side of the equation, CoinTelegraph interviewed Bitcoin-using business owners who explicitly choose to avoid government compliance. Ron Helwig, creator and owner of Shire Silver, an alternative currency based on precious metals, chooses not to report any of his activities to regulators.
“Well, I have no contact with government, if that's what you mean. No registration of the business, no taxes, no filings. The business isn't a corporation of any kind.”
Amanda B. Johnson, co-founder of daily cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer network news show, has also not sought out compliance with any legal or governmental framework.
“We try to only do things that are profitable, and I wouldn’t consider a government partnership to be profitable.”
Johnson, who heavily relies on Bitcoin as it makes up roughly 90% of her business, sees it as immensely practical.
“Sending and receiving payments is so fast and easy, and when they’re received they’re confirmed within 20 minutes, so it’s not days with a bank, it’s not I have to go to an ATM now, it’s not I have to go deposit a check now. It’s I sent my client an invoice 5 minutes ago, they paid me 4 minutes ago, and now the money is right here on my computer.”
Helwig, who runs a lean operation and whose business does just-in-time manufacturing, nonetheless stopped using Bitpay specifically to avoid government involvement.
“When I started accepting it I was using a website plugin to use Coinapult's services. I switched after a while to a Bitpay plugin. But recently Bitpay has caved in to KYC/AML requirements (even though they shouldn't apply in my case) and I am not able to give them the information they demanded, so I stopped using their plugin. For now I've been using manual and ad-hoc processes, although I am planning on implementing my own plugin which won't rely on third parties.”
Bitcoin allows Helwig to operate outside of a legal structure more freely.
“When using a third party such as Bitpay, there really isn't much difference as far as legal ramifications since they will be required to behave similarly to Paypal or other more traditional money services. But if you handle things yourself then yes bitcoin can be more convenient in that you don't need to worry about things you do getting reported without your consent or knowledge. And of course bitcoin's non-legal advantages make it even more attractive.”
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