Restaurants aren’t always the first on the block when it comes to technological advancements. Consider the use of cryptocurrency in restaurants. After all, it’s an industry that relies on customer satisfaction drawn from good service and well-prepared food, neither of which require robots or an IT degree.
Then, the pandemic hit, and operators were left scrambling, with many turning to the tech world to help pull them through. Now, some are starting to digitize themselves further, breaking the boundaries by accepting cryptocurrency payments.
Let’s explore what this means to restaurants, the benefits and risks, and who’s taking the plunge.
Who Accepts Crypto Currency
As of June 1, Chipotle Mexican Grill began accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Interested guests use the Flexa app, a payment provider that converts digital assets into dollars. When it’s time to pay, the app generates a barcode. When Chipotle employees scan the barcode, it instantly authorizes and guarantees the transaction.
The crypto amount is deducted from the customer’s digital wallet. Chipotle is paid in convertible virtual currency or fiat currency (government-issued currency, like the U.S. dollar). Flexa is offering 10% off for Chipotle customers who pay using crypto in June as part of a promotion.
Using the Bakkt digital wallet, Starbucks’ customers can use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for payment. While the mega-chain doesn’t accept these payments directly, the Bakkt App allows users to convert cryptocurrency into U.S. dollars and then load that value onto their Starbucks card in the Starbucks app.
Unless you’ve delved into the world of cryptocurrency, it can get a tad confusing. Forbes offered a good write-up on the basics of this digital asset.
BitPay, another payment service provider, partnered with Red Lobster, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, The Bristol in Chicago, and Formento’s. BitPay’s VP of marketing, Merrick Theobald, told NBC News that restaurants adopt cryptocurrency payments because of reduced fees and fast settlements. He also suggested that those who pay with these types of assets tend to tip more.
NBC also reported on one of the few restaurants in Big Lake, Minnesota, that accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. CamboFlare, an Asian fusion eatery, will also be accepting CamboCoin, a cryptocurrency created just for their restaurant. The restaurant offers 10-50% off for customers that pay in crypto.
Maestro’s Restaurants, a high-end steakhouse with units in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Washington D.C., accepts Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash at select locations. Staff present guests with a BitPay invoice QR code when they’re ready to pay.
One Step Further—Crypto Street Restaurant
Restauranteurs looking to increase people’s interest in cryptocurrencies have gone so far as to create concepts centered around digital currency. For example, Crypto Street Restaurant in Clearwater Beach, Florida, is looking to educate its customers about this digital currency.
The restaurant’s design is centered around crypto-inspired art, and customers can order Latin-inspired dishes like Crypto Cuban and Shiba shrimp. In addition, the restaurant plans to get an ATM that lets guests buy crypto with cash.
The Benefits and Risks
Since the rise of cryptocurrencies, regulators have been concerned that they would overtake fiat currencies and endanger the global economic infrastructure. But, with the growing acceptance and centralized institutions accepting digital currencies, major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin have gained acceptance.
Now, restaurants entering the crypto fray are experiencing some benefits, including faster settlements, reduced fees, and the elimination of fraud. The main risk associated with accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies lies in its volatility. Because of this, some restaurants are limiting transactions and placing price caps. Le Petit Jardin in Los Angeles is one such restaurant.
Another challenge is integrating these payments into a restaurant’s POS system. That, however, is changing as more tech companies look for solutions in this arena.
What places are accepting Bitcoin?
Outside of the growing number of restaurants considering cryptocurrency payments, several major companies accept Bitcoin in some form. These include Microsoft, PayPal, Whole Foods, Home Depot, and AMC Theatres, to name a few.
A few of the many restaurants we haven’t mentioned that take cryptocurrency payments include New York’s Hudson Eatery, Massachusetts’ Thelonious Monkfish, and Michigan’s 9 Bean Rows.
Are Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies bad for the environment?
Yes. According to Forbes, Bitcoin’s electricity consumption exceeds the annual consumption rate of Norway. Why the enormous carbon emissions footprint? Simply put, the answer lies in the computers that solve complex math problems to verify transactions.
Which cryptocurrency is highly volatile?
Shufflup took a look at 1500 cryptocurrencies and ranked the most volatile based on 24 hours of trading volume. The top five were Tether, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.