If a Bitcoin Comes To The Point of Sale, Will SMBs Really Care?


Last week Intuit announced the launch of PayWithBitcoin, a new service that integrates its new online bitcoin wallet with processing provider Coinbase. PYMNTS spoke to Manish Shah and Clinton Neilsen, the two Intuit engineers who are the brains behind this Bitcoin payments integration. But will what started out as an n experiment meet the needs of Intuit’s merchants? Their response may surprise you.

Bitcoin is getting one step closer to the mainstream as California-based financial management solution specialist Intuit has integrated bitcoin into its QuickBooks Online payment processing service.

Intuit’s new PayByCoin Service launched in collaboration with Bitcoin wallet and merchant processing provider Coinbase. Coinbase actually takes and processes the bitcoin payment; the QuickBooks integration allows small business customers to use QuickBooks online to create electronic invoices for customers and then choose to receive payments on those invoices in either BTC or USD.  There is no additional fee for this service other than the 1 percent transaction cost imposed by Coinbase.

Manish Shah and Clinton Nielsen are the Intuit employees behind the plan to bring bitcoin to QuickBooks as a payments option.  Shah is a group development manager in Intuit’s payments division and Nielsen works as an engineer on for QuickBooks.  They spoke to PYMNTS about what their goals are for the PayByCoin feature, and why they decided to pursue it in the first place.

Their goal of the system, says Shah, is that it is straight forward for any QuickBooks online customer (for whom the service is free) with a Coinbase wallet and the desire to take bitcoin to actually do so.

(Jump to 1:00)“PayByCoin allows you to activate the bitcoin payment in invoices by connecting your QuickBooks online account with your Coinbase wallet.  And once this is activated by PayByCoin whenever the customer of small businesses receive the invoice, in addition to credit card and bank payments, they will now see bitcoin as a new payment option.  The bitcoin transactions are completely handled by Coinbase and we take care of regarding the payment in QuickBooks.”

So why add this feature?  The project grew from Intuit’s culture of developing innovation to solve customer problems.  Nielsen, independent of his work first started taking interest in bitcoin a few years ago—first as a technology, then as a payment method.  He felt that Intuit and QuickBooks had some natural common ground—a desire to change how people look at money and finances.

(Jump to 4:33) “It just seemed like a natural thing to bring bitcoin into the Intuit ecosystem,” Nielsen said.

And so, using officially “unstructured time,” Nielsen and Shah teamed up to develop the project for Intuit, explains Shah.

(Jump to 7:16)“Both Clinton and I had worked together on a previous project but for this project we did this together in our unstructured time.  At Intuit all employees get 10 percent of their time to work on new ideas to help solve customer problems.  In this case Clinton and I are not even working on the same team—he’s in Canada and I’m in Mountain View—we are even located on different campuses.”

Though the culture is innovation friendly, Nielsen did note there was some evangelizing that had to happen first before the process could go through IntuitLabs to be launched for customers.

(Jump to 9:17) “We got a few blank stare moments and we had to instruct people what bitcoin was, but on the whole it’s been a very positive attitude.”

The question now is will merchants adopt bitcoin payments with enthusiasm or regard them with blank stares.

So far it is hard to tell—feedback has been positive, but users are still “early adopters.”

“Mostly what we are seeing is the early adopters are signing up and activating PayByCoin and we are seeing a wide variety of businesses across the U.S. showing interest in this.  So far it’s looking good, but we are mostly only seeing early adopters taking interest at this point.”

While owners transaction fees and no chargebacks and the ability for SMBs to receive payments from anywhere in the world all speak for the QuickBooks integration.

However, Shah and Nielsen agree, in this case it is all about the SMB consumer, and whether they want to pay with bitcoin.  So far the data is out on that one.
Listen to the full podcast by clicking below.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.