CASE STUDY

INTRODUCTION

There is a relatively untapped audience of Bitcoin users whose primary income is derived from bitcoin. This can be through mining, freelancing, entrepreneurial endeavors, trading, or being an early adopter. Regardless of the source, these users are eager to spend their bitcoins rather than exchange them back into their local currency. Or they would like to use these bitcoins to pay when they are travelling, and avoid the need of exchanging into foreign currency. However, brick and mortar adoption of bitcoin has proven more difficult than expected. This document aims to take a look at the state of the payment processing industry, bitcoin and their resulting mutual potential.

BITCOIN ADOPTION

Bitcoin merchant adoption has so far proved to be a challenging endeavor. Merchants are hesitant to accept it, and users are hesitant to spend it. And because there is no widespread Bitcoin PoS infrastructure in place, merchants often reconsider continued usage and relevant employee training. In many cases, they quit accepting bitcoin or become frustrated with early technical difficulties. This leads to compounding the problem of no widespread infrastructure. This represents a standard chicken-and-the-egg problem which has recently contributed to forcing merchant-side bitcoin payment processors to significantly limit their expansion and adoption efforts[1].

It has long been known that humans are best persuaded by practical demonstration and mimicry[2]. Therefore, it is possible to deduce that a tangible demonstration of bitcoin functioning as a valid currency is instrumental to persuading hesitant merchants. This problem can be solved by connecting bitcoin to existing worldwide payment infrastructure, and paying with bitcoin on-site at any store which is connected to said infrastructure.  Once a merchant sees that a successful payment has been made, they may inquire to see how it functions and how to benefit further.

Merchants that accept Bitcoin (Q1 2016) [3] > 100 000
Average Transactions Per Day [4] ~ 155 000
Estimated bitcoin users in 2014 > 1 million
Estimated bitcoin users by 2019 [5] > 5 million

PAYMENT PROCESSORS/MERCHANTS

Digital payments methods have been getting more popular over time. By 2020, the number of total yearly cashless payments is expected to increase to 177 billion from 121 billion. In the UK, cashless payments have overtaken cash payments in 2016 by 2%[6]. Russia leads the way with bitcoin payments at 6.9%

WHAT PAYMENT METHOD DO YOU USE MOST OFTEN WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE? UK (%) US (%) DE (%) RUS (%)
Credit card 25.05 49.44 10.50 19.50
PayPal or similar service 39.76 22.66 58.60 26.50
Payment upon delivery 2.49 3.09 20.90 18.50
Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency 1.19 1.50 1.60 6.90
Bank/Debit card 31.51 23.31 8.40 28.70

TRANSACTION FEES

Bitcoin has the worldwide lowest average transaction fees of any system, and does not discriminate by geography. This creates a potential to exert market pressure on other payment methods to lower their fees dramatically.

Credit cards 1.9% to 3% for the merchant
Debit Card varies - typically 1% + flat fees
Debit Card Issuance Fee ~$20
Bitcoin min. 0.0001 BTC

Exchanges

Third-party bitcoin exchanges often suffer from issues of security, liquidity and may be run by unknown or unreliable third-parties who may or may not misrepresent themselves. A clear example of this was seen in the Mt. Gox crisis, a once popular bitcoin exchange that lost all user funds amounting to a total of over 500,000 bitcoins. At the peak of Bitcoin’s value, this was roughly half a billion dollars.[8]

Therefore it is not recommended to store funds in a centralized point unless absolutely necessary. Best practices for bitcoin recommend the usage of offline cold storage wallets and warn against the re-use of addresses.

Bitcoin Debit Cards

Traditional bitcoin debit card solutions charge high fees, and outsource their risk to centralized exchanges. For example, Xapo and Cryptopay charge 1%. Xapo also charges an annual fee of $10, $2.50 on ATM withdrawals, and 3% on foreign exchange purchase[9][10].

NFC Benefits & Stats

NFC contactless payments are steadily gaining popularity around the world.

2013 2014 2016 2016
NFC Payment Enabled Phones Worldwide[11] 146m 278m 556m >1000m
NFC Payment Users Worldwide[12] 12.7m 28m 53.9m 166m
Installed base of NFC points of sale[13] 15m 21m 35m 43m

PLUTUS

By combining the available infrastructure together, Plutus has developed a technology that can convert bitcoin into contactless NFC payments without a centralized exchange to do so.

Sign up for Plutus and deposit bitcoin
Smart contracts forward your bitcoin directly to a trader on the DEX
Trader's fiat deposit is released from escrow into your Tap & Pay balance.
The result is a true peer-to-peer exchange network on the blockchain.
All funds for payment are secured in escrow.
Plutus connects your account with a prepaid virtual debit card. This makes it possible to Tap & Pay in store with your NFC mobile device through the global debit card network.
The merchant now accepts Bitcoin by proxy.

Plutus DEX Platform

Plutus operates by connecting to a decentralized exchange platform, which uses smart contracts to handle digital currency trading. This means that counterparty risk and the need to plug into a third party exchange is tactfully avoided.[14]

Traders register on the platform and verify their account. Once verified, they transfer fiat currency to a Plutus escrow (bank) account. Before the trader can place a order, they must register their bitcoin payout address. They will then be ready to create a buy order by setting their best price and stop limits.

Users send bitcoin to their Plutus account, which are then automatically transferred to trader(s) on the DEX network. Smart contracts verify the transaction before the resulting fiat (USD, EUR, etc.) from the trader’s funds in escrow is transferred to the user’s virtual debit card, which can then be spent at any merchant that accepts NFC payments.

Conclusion

To facilitate practical use of bitcoin and accelerate merchant adoption, Plutus combines bitcoin, decentralized trading technology, and the existing worldwide NFC payment infrastructure to give users the ability to pay with bitcoin. In 2013, there were already over 150,000 installed NFC-ready terminals in the U.K and shop owners were already struggling to meet demands[15]. NFC-ready mobile devices are shipped at a compound annual growth rate of over 50.6%, and are estimated to reach a total of more than 2 billion chips worldwide by 2019[16]. We therefore believe that Plutus creates a benefit for consumers by merging two wildly growing markets: bitcoin, and NFC payments.

References: