Q&A with the Chocolate Tree

Posted on August 21, 2012

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After my experience buying yummy things from the Chocolate Tree, I thought it’d be interesting to get the Bitcoin perspective from this Edinburgh-based store . The traders’ perspective is, in my opinion, one of the large holes in the world of Bitcoin at the moment (see this forum thread for another example). Ali from the Tree very kindly provided some answers to go along with the absinthe masks.

How long have you been in business generally?

We started in the summer of 2005, touring British music festivals with our geodesic chocolaterie tent.

When and why did you decide to adopt Bitcoins as a payment method?

A friend introduced me to the method about 6 months ago, he set everything up for us and made it very user friendly. I was sceptical at first but after he demonstrated the benefits and interface I couldn’t see why not to offer our customers another option for payment.

Can I ask roughly how much business you get via Bitcoins?

Not much, only an order every couple of weeks or so, but it is early days.

Could you give some info on how you use Bitcoins? Two of the common barriers to small businesses adopting them seem to be getting integration set up, and handling unstable exchange rates – how do you cope with these, or any other challenges?

My friend operates this side of the setup, he charges a small commission for doing so but this is much less than we are charged by PayPal.

What challenges did you face in terms of integrating Bitcoins into your accounting? Is there any advice you’d offer to people thinking about accepting them for their business?

It’s easy enough to do a monthly statement which will show the income in Pounds Stirling which our bookkeeper can handle. I would highly recommend them to any business trading online, I’m sure other companies could benefit from the slightly increased margin on sales.

Would you use Bitcoin as a currency i.e. to buy other goods/services, or do you see them primarily as a payment method?

I would definitely use them to purchase goods online if their use was more widespread. It’s a pity more companies don’t offer them as a payment method.

Bitcoin – world-changing, or a novelty?

Well the potential is there… Bitcoins could prevent banks and other financial institutions from interfering with our online transactions, which is great for the consumer and the seller. I am not sure if they will succeed to a world-changing status though as it would take time and effort on the part of the consumers and sellers to sign up for them, without massive campaigns to promote bitcoins it is likely only a minority of people will use them.
Big thanks to Ali for being so approachable. It’s clear that if Bitcoin wants to really make it “big”, it needs to become as smooth an experience as Paypal – or at least as smooth as people are used to, if not better. In a future post I’ll be looking at the reasons why Bitcoin is so confusing, and how that confusion might be a threat to its success. In the meantime, if you’re now hungry for chocolate, head over here.

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