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Bitcoin Point of Sale Systems

Bitcoin is starting to gain in popularity as a way to pay for things over the internet, but in order to become truly mainstream it needs to pass the groceries test, which is simple this: can I pay for my groceries using bitcoin?

For the most part the answer to this question at the moment is no – you cannot go to into the vast majority of local stores and pay using bitcoin. There are some workarounds which people use of course, such as prepaid debit cards which you can load using bitcoin and then use anywhere that accepts regular debit cards. But these workarounds are not ideal, as they often incur high fees which kind of defeats one of the big advantages of bitcoin which is that the fees are lower than they are for alternative payment methods such as regular credit and debit cards.

Hopefully this will change over time as more and more bricks and mortar businesses start to accept bitcoin payments. In order for a business to accept payment in person using btc they need to have a 'point of sale' or 'PoS' system. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the main options which are currently available to merchants looking to integrate a bitcoin point of sale system into their business, and to make it as easy as possible for prospective merchants to start accepting btc payments.

Open Source Point of Sale Systems for Bitcoin

Bitcoin itself is open source and peer to peer, and one of its big selling points is that it takes the power and control over your finances out of the hands of big business and into the hands of regular users and interested parties who support the network through mining. The best solution would therefore be an open source point of sale system which merchants can use without incurring processing fees or having to trust their money to a third party processor. Not only would this be more in-line with the ideals of Bitcoin, it would also be financially advantageous to the merchant themselves.

Of course one of the problems with this is the fact that most merchants want to instantly convert the btc they receive as payment into fiat money to reduce exchange risk, and this is why most people use branded systems sold by payment processors which perform this task for them and send out daily fiat payments. Nevertheless it is possible for an open source system to use exchange APIs to instantly sell to fiat and incur only the fees charged by the exchange (which may be higher or lower than payment processor charges) or for merchants to hold at least some of the btc they receive and use it to pay for some of their costs – as the crypto currency economy grows and the price continues to stabilize this is likely to become a more and more attractive option. Since these payments are likely to be only a small part of the total revenue generated by a business I would personally encourage businesses to hold the bitcoin they receive as an investment, but of course every business need to evaluate this for themselves.

Currently the number of open source solutions is limited, but here are a couple you might like to take a look at:

Casascius Bitcoin POS system

Casacius is a work in progress which is not yet fully functional but is perhaps the most promising open source system. It uses a customized VeriFone Vx510 or Vx570 payment terminal, which is a relatively low cost credit card payment terminal designed for small businesses. Some of the planned features include:

  1. Exchange rate calculator to provide accurate prices in btc.
  2. Printable or on-screen QR codes for customers to make payments.
  3. Instant notifications of payment received.
  4. Added Security by not storing bitcoins on site, but instead communicating with an external server (with SSL encryption)
  5. Anti-theft tamper-resistant terminal

You can learn more about Casascius PoS here: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Casascius_Bitcoin_POS_system

Green Address PoS Tools

If you don't mind getting stuck into a more customized set up you can find some good open source tools to use 'Green Addresses' for creating your own PoS system.

These tools are designed to be installed on a pc unit with QR codes being displayed to customers on a monitor. One of the most interesting features developed as part of this project is the ability to accept payments through bluetooth or NFC.

You can learn more from the forum thread at Bitcointalk here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=38893.0 or get stuck in to the code on Github here: https://github.com/javgh/greenaddress-pos-tools

Coinkite PoS Terminal

Coinkite is a fairly popular payment processor which includes a good quality point of sale terminal. One of the best features of the Coinkite terminal is that it can be set up to act in a dual capacity for both accepting normal retail payments and also for buying and selling bitcoin to your customers. The exchange functionality allows you to set a fixed fee or a percentage spread on the exchange rate so you can profit from buying and selling coins from your business premises.

Some of the main features of the Coinkite terminal include:

  1. QR code printer
  2. Option for customers to add a tip
  3. Add your own mark up onto prices
  4. Bookkeeping tools
  5. Print double receipts – for you and the customer
  6. Sell and accept Coinkite's bitcoin debit cards
  7. Sell both btc and ltc and set your own mark up
  8. Print paper wallets or vouchers for customers buying coins from you
  9. Auto-convert your payments to fiat to reduce currency holding risks

You can visit the Coinkite website here: https://coinkite.com/

Picture of the Coinkite Terminal:

BitPagos

Probably the most important feature offered by the BitPagos PoS terminal is the ability to accept both credit card payments and crypto currency payments from the same unit. There is no dedicated terminal hardware, however – merchants are encouraged to use the BitPagos app installed on a tablet computer for taking payments.

The BitPagos point of sale app also includes some interesting and unique features for businesses such as hotels who need to take bookings and make reservations.

You can learn more by visiting the BitPagos website here: https://www.bitpagos.com/en/

BitPay

BitPay is one of the most popular payment processors for online merchants, but they do also have some interesting options for bricks and mortar businesses. Although their own PoS system is just an app which you run on a tablet computer, they have partnered with an established point of sale provider called SoftTouch (http://www.softtouchpos.com/) which offers a wide range of solutions for all kinds of different businesses, all of which can be integrated with BitPay to accept btc and automatically sell the coins you receive for fiat.

You can find more information on the BitPay website here: https://bitpay.com/features#retail

Moolah

Moolah is a UK based company which offers an all-in-one PoS solution for accepting cash, credit cards and crypto currency. They work with a wide range of coins in addition to btc but offer little further information on their website.

You can try to find out more information or contact Moolah from their website here: https://moolah.io/

Categories: E-Currency | Cryptocurrency | Bitcoin


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