With digital currencies slowly taking over the world, the next big step will be to see local shops and marketplaces offering them as an alternative method of payment.
This is easier said than done, however. Larger coins like Bitcoin have high transaction fees that make them unfavorable for micro-transactions such as buying a coffee.
After Bitcoin, there are literally thousands of altcoins to choose from, all employing a dizzying range of technology that any coffee shop vendor would have a hard time deciphering. As it stands, cryptocurrencies might actually be suffering from this bloat of variety. The indication is that the technology just isn’t there yet for mainstream, brick-and-mortar adoption. The fact that every other new coin is a fork featuring a security fix should be telling.
The other glaring problem preventing static shop-owners from picking up or investing any time into digital currencies is that fact that most of them are short-lived and unstable, with prices jumping up and down at an unpredictable pace. Cashing them out can be an arduous task, too. Sometimes, the only option is to go to a peer2peer exchange. Remember, mainstream adoption means regular people using crypto payment methods, not just CompSci-grad-turned wholefoods retailer.
Before cryptocurrencies can see any widespread adoption in high street stores, these issues will have to be hammered out, and at the moment no clear winner is in sight. Even though you can buy a coffee using Bitcoin it’s just not practical for normal people (or those in developing nations).
Future developers will also have to tackle the complexity issue of digital currencies. Adoption will be slow if staff need to be retrained to use weird, custom-made PoS software for digital currencies, or if managers are constantly forced to keep updating their payment policies because their local region can’t decide on a single currency. Even though payment gates such as CoinPayments make setting up coin payments easier, there is still a large amount of work to be done on the vendors part, that will definitely turn away the less enthusiastic.