While most people have heard of Bitcoin, only 10 percent of people understand how cryptocurrencies work, let alone how they came into existence. While you don't need to fully understand the technology, it's critically important for you to understand how cryptocurrencies can benefit your small business. Some of the small business benefits of "cryptos" include improved workflows, lower operating costs, reduced fraud, and increased trust among vendors and customers.
As background, the creation of cryptocurrencies in 2009 was a direct result of the financial crisis of 2008. That crisis developed in large part due to years of questionable promotion and use of financial instruments such as underfunded credit default swaps, subprime housing loans, and mortgage-backed securities. Traditional banks, investment firms, and financial institutions drove those assets up and then down-- cratering the U.S. economy and others around the world.
Staving off a complete economic collapse required hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts and artificial resets of interest rates to zero or less, courtesy of central banks spanning the globe. Those Herculean efforts were taken to prop up economies and save big banking institutions that were deemed "too big to fail."
That focus from policymakers and central bankers on saving Wall Street over Main Street small businesses and retail investors showcased how federal fiscal foibles and mismanaged monetary policies can cause serious geopolitical fallout. We all saw it and none of us wanted it to happen again.
In the aftermath, an alternative monetary model was created. It was intended to benefit individuals and give us a fighting chance against the "smart money" and capital constraints from Big Banks and Big Finance.
Cryptocurrencies came into existence following the publication of a white paper that introduced Bitcoin and how it would work. Built on a tamper-proof blockchain to prevent financial funny business, cryptocurrencies hold the promise of financial freedom and fiscal equality for adopters. Cryptos have many features that include: eliminating the need for third-party gatekeepers such as banks; instant settlement transaction times; significantly lower transaction fees; and low-friction transfers to anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
Virtually any small business can find value in those crypto benefits.
Despite the volatility within cryptocurrencies, the underlying fundamentals supporting their use case and their value still remain. Consider these three macroeconomic trends that aren't going away soon:
Governments continue to print money at record rates.
The U.S. Federal Reserve authorized the U.S. Treasury to increase the printing of U.S. dollars in February 2020. Since then the total monetary supply (M2) has increased a staggering 31 percent in less than 18 months to $21 trillion in circulation. It doesn't take a Nobel laureate in economics to know that when money gets printed and pumped into markets in ever-increasing amounts, it results in ever-decreasing value for each individual dollar.
Cryptocurrency stablecoins such as USD Coin and Dai are pegged to the U.S. dollar but have remained steady despite dollars flooding the markets. Right now, your unused stablecoins left on a cryptocurrency exchange-- a desktop or mobile app to buy and sell digital coins/tokens-- can earn annual percentage yields ranging from 4 up to 12 percent, which is a solid rate of return for any small business.
Inflation continues to increase and the cost of goods is going up.
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that June's inflation rate increased 5.4 percent. That was the largest year-over-year jump since 2008 in the price of consumer goods. Critics often bash the Consumer Price Index as an inaccurate gauge of "real inflation" since it's based on cost changes for a basket of goods and services, but politicians have randomly changed the mix in that basket over the years. It's not a consistent comparator.
Despite those flaws, it's tough to ignore June's 5.4 percent jump-- on top of the 5.0 percent increase we saw in May 2021. Those numbers exclude the double-digit increases we've seen in the prices for homes, used cars, and gas at the pump. As a small business, you're on the frontline of inflation with few options for protection. However, due to its scarcity of only 21 million tokens, Bitcoin is a viable inflationary hedge that can easily be bought or sold in fractional amounts for small businesses that might need speedy access to liquidity.
Unbanked consumers turning to cryptocurrency.
Many people take things like checking accounts, simplified employee pensions, Roth IRAs, and collateral loans for granted. Currently, there are more than 1.7 billion people globally that don't have access to any of those financial options-- not even a basic savings account.
Whether it's due to political corruption, local laws against such services, or unreliable infrastructure, the "unbanked" have virtually no banking or finance choices. The lack of financial infrastructure opens the door for virtual currencies and digital wallets on mobile devices, that sidestep intermediary institutions and corruption. Consider that last month El Salvador granted Bitcoin status as legal tender in that country. Its President, Nayib Bukele, led the charge for that initiative to help economically benefit the 70 percent of his country's population that are unbanked.
The world is shrinking as access to global consumers expands for small businesses-- cryptocurrencies are part of that expansion. Cryptocurrencies eliminate foreign currency exchange fees, wire transfer costs, and provide nearly instant payment settlement wherever your customer may live. Once plugged into cryptocurrencies, hundreds of millions of unbanked consumers will likely welcome crypto-friendly businesses such as yours. You can prepare your business now to embrace that future.
Many mainstream media outlets focus on the fear, uncertainty, and doubt-- commonly referred to as "FUD" within crypto circles-- associated with cryptocurrencies. It's critically important to remember that Bitcoin didn't create these negative geopolitical conditions and circumstances. It was created as a possible alternative solution. Cryptocurrencies are worth considering for small businesses, since politicians and the financial power brokers continue to look out for their own interests rather than yours.
Disclosure: I own a modest amount of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, and XRP.