Some experts may dismiss cryptocurrency as impractical for retail payments, but at least one independent sales organization is doubling—make that tripling—down on crypto for merchant acceptance.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Aliant Payment Systems Inc. last week launched programs for Ether and Litecoin to go along with one for Bitcoin that it introduced late last summer. Pricing has been set and the company has begun talking to merchants, says Eric Brown, founder and chief executive. “We now call it cryptocoin processing, no longer just Bitcoin processing,” he tells Digital Transactions News.
More than 80 merchants have signed up for the triple play, all with “little to no marketing” so far, Brown says. All of them currently accept credit cards. With interest building, Brown adds, “it’s been kind of crazy all over the board.”
Aliant processes crypto as well as card transactions on smart terminals from Poynt Co. that it installs in clients’ stores. The digital-currency transactions at the point of sale are priced at 0.89% plus a nickel, according to information posted last week on Aliant’s Web site. Merchants that opt for a monthly plan for the Poynt device pay $29.95 per month. To handle the back end processing, including conversion to fiat currency, Aliant relies on NetCents Systems Ltd., a 5-year-old Vancouver, British Columbia-based exchange.
Aliant added Litecoin, Brown says, because transactions process faster than with Bitcoin, a network that in recent months has been notorious for slow speeds and high fees for users. In contrast with Bitcoin, whose surging price last year fed an investing mania that many experts called a bubble, “nobody’s talking about Litecoin as an investment,” says Brown. “What’s going to work in the payments space? It’s going to be Litecoin.”
Litecoin, which emerged in 2011 as an offshoot or “fork” of Bitcoin’s underlying code and now ranks as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, also boasts more reasonable user fees than Bitcoin, Brown points out. The median transaction fee, charged to those who spend it, stood at 4.5 cents on Tuesday, compared to 81 cents for Bitcoin, according to Bitinfocharts.com.
Ether’s blockchain, on the other hand, is useful in high-value transactions where chain of ownership might come into play, Brown says. “Ether brings value to the table with smart contracts in titling a boat or a car,” he says.
Aliant, which has been in business 15 years, processes credit card, debit card, and automated clearing house transactions for 6,700 merchants, with annual card volume alone totaling $435 million. Its specialty is e-commerce and high-risk sellers, a category in which, Brown argues, low-cost, fast transactions that can’t be repudiated will be attractive.
Indeed, “there is a floodgate-type surge that is coming,” he says. “Crypto is here to stay. It just makes sense.”