One of the best things about being a small business owner, and also one of the worst, is that the ground beneath us is always shifting.
Take, for example, all the buzz around Bitcoin, the worldwide payment system that some are calling a new kind of money. (For those unfamiliar with Bitcoin, YouTube has some helpful videos.)
Depending on whom you ask, within a few years we may all be using Bitcoins to buy and sell, or some similar technology.
Already in Charlotte a handful of businesses are starting to accept the online currency. Others are watching to see what happens.
To help explain it all, two Bitcoin enthusiasts from the Raleigh-Durham area are coming to Charlotte Friday and Saturdayto host their Second Annual Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo, an event that drew more than 300 people to its 2014 launch in Raleigh.
To get a better feel for why small business owners might want to notice this technology, I talked with Daniel Spuller, one the expo’s co-founders. In the Q&A below, his answers were edited for brevity and clarity.
Also, Spuller has been buying Bitcoins for several years, so he has a vested stake in this new system of payment.
Q. What is the purpose of your expo?
A. The main purpose is to raise awareness and to provide an opportunity for interested, like-minded people who want to learn about Bitcoin. Last year we had a lot of small mom-and-pop shops, because we hosted a merchant workshop last year.
Q. Why should a small business consider Bitcoin?
A. The best reason is that they can save money on transactions. Compared to credit cards, it’s very, very effective and very, very inexpensive. It’s also a great marketing tool.
Q. This is a new and complex thing. Why should we trust it?
A. It took me a good three months to really wrap my head around it, because it was still in the very early stages. And we’re still in the early stages in the grand scheme of things. I always tell the consumer; they have to do their due diligence. They have to research it.
Q. What do you make of the recent stories of criminals using Bitcoins?
A. Sure there are criminal who use it. But there are criminals who use the $5 bill every day. It’s just a different form. So when people tell me Bitcoin is used by criminals, I say so is the $100 bill, so is the Japanese yen.
Glenn Burkins is editor and publisher of Qcitymetro.com, an online news site targeting Charlotte’s African-American community. He is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Charlotte Observer business editor.