How to accept cryptocurrency for subscription and recurring payments
In recent years, the world of finance has been transformed by the rise of cryptocurrencies. As digital assets built on decentralized blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and countless others have revolutionized the way, people think about money, investments, and transactions. With their growing acceptance and adoption across diverse industries, cryptocurrencies are no longer a niche phenomenon but a mainstream force to be reckoned with.
One area where crypto has the potential to make a significant impact is in the realm of subscription-based businesses, especially through the implementation of recurring crypto payments. Subscription models, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), have become increasingly popular among both B2B and B2C companies, driving a need for innovative payment solutions that can cater to a global audience.
This article aims to explore the concept of recurring crypto payments, exploring their benefits, best practices, and integration strategies for subscription-based businesses. By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of the potential that recurring crypto payments hold for your subscription-based business and how you can utilize this transformative technology to fuel your growth and success.
What is the difference between subscription and recurring payments?
Both subscription and recurring payments involve automated, periodic payments from the customer to the service or product provider. However, there are subtle differences between the two.
Recurring payments are set up for goods or services with fixed billing periods (e.g., monthly, weekly, daily, or annually), and the customer continues to receive the product or service until they cancel the subscription or the plan expires. This model saves time for both the business and its customers by eliminating the need to place orders or request services repeatedly.
Subscription payments, on the other hand, offer more flexibility for businesses in terms of plan creation and pricing structures. Subscription businesses can customize the length of the plan and billing intervals according to their customers’ needs, allowing them to adapt to market demands more effectively. Like recurring payments, subscription payments involve auto-debiting the customer’s bank account in fixed periods.
In summary, while both methods involve periodic, automated payments, subscription payments offer businesses more flexibility in customizing plans and pricing structures to cater to their customer’s preferences and market trends.
Benefits of accepting cryptocurrency for your subscription and recurring payments
Keeping up with the subscription economy trend, we should delve into the perks of accepting cryptocurrency for your subscription and recurring payments.
A core feature of crypto is its decentralized nature. Strong communities emerge, as there are numerous participants driven to ensure the network thrives. Plenty of these crypto communities boast passionate supporters, resulting in unparalleled engagement compared to other community types. Adopting this community-centric approach can pave the way for merchants to incentivize their customers, encouraging active participation in the communities they establish.
Lower fees compared to traditional payment methods
Standard credit card processing charges usually hover around 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction, largely because of the multiple intermediaries involved in handling these payments. Crypto, on the other hand, eliminates most, if not all, of these middlemen, making transactions considerably more cost-effective.
When it comes to credit card payments, it can take days for the funds to appear in a merchant’s account. In contrast, crypto offers an almost instantaneous settlement, providing businesses with a speedy cash flow solution.
The accessibility of credit card numbers and expiration dates allows transactions to be processed by unauthorized users. Despite banks using advanced anti-fraud systems, credit card fraud remains a multi-billion-dollar problem. To safeguard consumers, card issuers offer “chargebacks” that allow reporting and reversal of fraudulent transactions. However, chargebacks contribute to higher credit card fees and risks, often resulting in substantial losses for genuine merchants when they lose dispute resolutions.
When someone sends Bitcoin or another digital currency, that transaction cannot be reversed. Therefore as the Blockchain system does not need a central authority to verify the transaction, no chargebacks can be issued and the merchant remains the only one that can reverse it deemed necessary with his private key.
Current payment processors often come with numerous concealed charges when it comes to currency conversion. With crypto, merchants, and customers can conduct transactions in a universal currency, regardless of their location. If currency conversion becomes necessary, the high liquidity of crypto markets ensures substantially lower fees compared to conventional payment processors.
Protected against censorship
Traditional banks and payment processors often reject legitimate businesses in sectors considered high-risk. Crypto, on the other hand, provides a degree of resistance to censorship, allowing these businesses to sustain their customer relationships even when conventional financial institutions turn them away.
Quick Funds Availability
As an online merchant, you’re probably using a payment gateway or aggregator to accept payments. Regrettably, it takes about 3-5 business days for the funds to reach your account after the customer pays, limiting your immediate access to the money. By enabling crypto payments, your wallet gets credited right away upon receiving the customer’s payment. This allows you to access and utilize your funds promptly.
New client base
Implementing this payment option to your business allows you to reach a new client base, that is young, wealthier, and open to innovative solutions. It is estimated that the number of cryptocurrency owners reached 420 million in January 2023.
To initiate transactions and remain anonymous is а luxury that cannot be afforded by everyone. Reserved for a few only, now it’s close to reaching half a billion users that can protect their privacy while acquiring goods and services.
Challenges of cryptocurrency subscription payments
Of course, there are some important factors to consider before accepting them as a payment option.
We’re all familiar with the automatic debit of bank card subscriptions. You set it and forget it (only to later find out you’ve been charged for a long-forgotten Adobe Photoshop subscription). When it comes to crypto, funds aren’t automatically withdrawn from your clients. While there are programmable invoice solutions for recipients, customers still need to initiate payments each time manually.
Crypto’s volatility makes it less suitable for subscription payments, as the value of a single Bitcoin can experience notable fluctuations within a day or even an hour. That being said, stablecoins effectively address this issue by maintaining a stable value.
Push Transactions vs. Pull Transactions
Cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum facilitate a unidirectional payment flow, allowing transactions to be pushed from the sender to the recipient. This design supports the self-sovereign spirit of the crypto world.
However, this approach hinders the conventional subscription process, which involves pulling payments from the sender’s account at predetermined intervals. This constraint is a key reason why crypto subscriptions haven’t flourished despite the massive volume of crypto payment processing.
Keeping Track of Customers
Recurring payments are designed to create a smoother customer experience. But with crypto’s ‘push’ system, customers must initiate each payment, which goes against this convenience. Moreover, this method places control in the customers’ hands, making it challenging for merchants to monitor customers when they cancel or renew their subscriptions.
Complicated change of prices
Currently, subscription-based companies can adjust their subscription prices and charge customers’ cards without specific notification. However, utilizing crypto payments for subscriptions restricts this flexibility. Merchants must explicitly inform customers about a price change before charging the updated amount. This requirement may result in increased customer attrition.
Setting Up Smart Contracts.
Smart contracts are blockchain-based programs that activate when certain conditions are fulfilled, like when a customer pays a certain amount, they gain access to a specific service. However, when a merchant adjusts the price of their product or service, a new contract is needed, making the process rather burdensome.
Crypto payment gateways that accept recurring payments
If you want to start accepting recurring crypto payments, you have to utilize the relevant tools and services. We take a look at the most popular ones which, we at Coin Labz recommend.
BitPay’s recurring payment service enables businesses to set up and manage subscription billing for their customers. To configure recurring subscription billing with BitPay, follow these steps:
To set up recurring subscription billing with BitPay, follow these steps:
- Create a bill with a recurring schedule: From the BitPay merchant dashboard or API, create a bill that specifies the desired recurring schedule, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly. You can also set a custom schedule if using the API.
- Send the bill to the purchaser: The bill will be emailed to the customer according to the selected schedule. The email will contain a link to generate a BitPay invoice for payment.
- Pay the bill: The customer can click the link in the email to generate the BitPay invoice, add their buyer information, and proceed with the payment using their preferred cryptocurrency. The invoice will show the payment information, including the amount and cryptocurrency address.
- Invoice expiry and regeneration: If the invoice expires before the customer sends the payment, they can generate a new invoice from the bill until an invoice for that bill has been paid or the due date has passed.
For example, if you create a bill with a weekly schedule, the customer will receive an email every 7 days with a link to pay the bill. They can click the “Pay Bill Now” button in the email, which will display the bill, allow them to add their information, and then click the “Pay with BitPay” button to generate the invoice containing the payment information.
BitPay will automatically handle future billing cycles by generating new invoices for customers based on the specified intervals and sending email reminders to customers for payment.
You can manage and track active subscriptions from your BitPay merchant dashboard, including viewing subscription details, editing plans, and canceling subscriptions. BitPay’s recurring payment service simplifies the subscription billing process for businesses and their customers, making it easy to accept and manage cryptocurrency payments for subscription-based services.
In addition to the BitPay merchant dashboard, businesses can also set up and manage recurring payments using BitPay’s API. By leveraging the API, you can create bills that are automatically sent to your customers at a defined time interval, such as every 30 days or other custom time frames. This allows for more flexibility and customization of billing cycles using parameters like seconds, minutes, hours, day of the month, month, and day of the week.
By integrating the API, you can further streamline their billing processes, automate invoice generation, and efficiently manage cryptocurrency-based subscription payments.
CoinGate’s Recurring Billing enables verified companies on their platform to generate, schedule, and routinely send recurring cryptocurrency invoices through email or a link containing a QR code. This versatile solution can be accessed directly from the account dashboard, requiring no coding or, alternatively, through a custom API integration, allowing businesses to choose the method that best fits their needs.
To implement CoinGate’s Recurring Billing for Crypto, you simply need to sign up for a CoinGate account and then follow their step-by-step guide on setting up recurring billing. This includes integrating the CoinGate API with your platform, configuring subscription plans and billing cycles, and customizing payment pages to suit your brand. With CoinGate’s user-friendly interface and comprehensive support resources, you can quickly and easily incorporate recurring crypto payments into your subscription-based business.
NOWPayments offers a streamlined and programmable approach to help businesses receive periodic payments in the form of crypto invoices.
With NOWPayments, setting up recurring cryptocurrency invoices is incredibly simple. By following these steps, you can start accepting periodic payments with ease:
Sign up for a personal account.
Go to the “Invoice” section and click the “Create Invoice” button.
Complete the required fields (currency, order ID, and reminder frequency).
Add your subscriber’s email address (multiple addresses can be added).
Wait for your subscriber to confirm the subscription.
NOWPayments takes care of the rest by sending reminders to your subscribers, prompting them to make their payments. This hassle-free solution allows businesses to accept recurring payments with just a few clicks.
By utilizing the NOWPayments API tool, merchants can seamlessly set up subscriptions, leaving them with more time to focus on other essential business processes.
Crypto.com Pay’s subscription service makes it easy for your business to get regular payments from customers on a recurring basis.
You can set the subscription fee to any type of fiat currency. When each payment is received, it’ll be converted into either fiat or cryptocurrency based on your merchant’s currency settings. Both you and your customers have the option to terminate the subscription whenever they want.
Once you’ve set up the subscription, you’ll be given a URL link to the payment page. You should direct your customers there and they will be guided on how to choose their cryptocurrency and confirm their subscription through the Crypto.com App. Once it is approved, the first billing cycle’s payment will be taken immediately. Subsequent cycles’ payments will then be created and collected automatically (as long as your customers have enough funds in their Crypto.com App wallet).
While the process with Crypto.com is automated and the payment will be processed automatically on the billing date without further authorization from the client (until they cancel the subscription), to take advantage of that, your clients need to use the Crypto.com app, which is a huge drawback for most businesses.
You can read our comprehensive guide about cryptocurrency payment gateways here if you need more info on the topic.
More things to consider before accepting subscription payments in cryptocurrency
There are a few extra aspects to consider before you can facilitate on the benefits of accepting crypto subscription payments.
Manage crypto volatility
You have two primary ways to protect yourself from fluctuating cryptocurrency prices:
Immediate conversion to fiat currency
To minimize your exposure to cryptocurrency price fluctuations, you can opt for the immediate conversion of received crypto payments into fiat currency. By using a cryptocurrency payment processor that supports automatic conversion, you can mitigate the risk associated with crypto volatility.
Diversifying your crypto portfolio
Another strategy to manage risk is holding and diversifying your cryptocurrency portfolio. By investing in multiple cryptocurrencies, you can reduce the impact of price swings in a single digital asset. Additionally, you can consider a long-term holding strategy, taking advantage of potential growth in the cryptocurrency market.
Monitoring and adjusting your strategy as needed
Regularly reviewing and adjusting your cryptocurrency strategy is crucial for effective risk management. Stay informed about market trends, technological advancements, and changes in the regulatory landscape to make informed decisions regarding your crypto holdings and payment strategy. Be prepared to adapt your approach to suit the evolving market conditions.
Compliance and Legal Considerations
There are some regulations and compliance rules that you need to contemplate on. The Coinlabz team recommends talking to a professional if you are uncertain and want to avoid any legal actions.
Understanding local and international regulations
It’s essential for you to stay up-to-date with local and international regulations governing cryptocurrency transactions. Familiarise yourself with the legal requirements in your jurisdiction, as well as any cross-border implications when dealing with customers from other countries. Compliance with these regulations will help you avoid legal complications and potential penalties.
Implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols
Ensure that you implement robust KYC and AML procedures to prevent illicit activities and comply with regulatory requirements. This may involve verifying the identity of your customers, monitoring transactions for suspicious activities, and reporting any anomalies to the relevant authorities. Ideally, the payment gateway provider that you use to accept recurring payments in crypto will take care of that. Just make sure they comply with the local laws and regulations.
Ensuring tax compliance and reporting
Cryptocurrency transactions may be subject to taxes, depending on the jurisdiction. It is crucial for you to understand the tax implications of your crypto-related activities and maintain accurate records of all transactions. Consult with a tax professional or legal advisor to ensure compliance with tax regulations and avoid potential penalties.
Which businesses should consider accepting recurring payments and subscriptions in crypto?
Businesses that accept cryptocurrencies can profit from increased revenue and reduced risk of chargebacks and fraud. Focusing on the latter, gaming sites, the adult industry, nutraceuticals, and CBD Products are all high-risk industries that can substantially benefit from using recurring crypto payments and subscriptions.
Striving to keep up with the innovation in payment solutions, a lot of countries warmed up towards cryptocurrencies and accepted their usage. In countries like Canada, there are even more than 1400 Crypto ATMs so people can try out something new and make the most of new technology. While others like Algeria, Bangladesh, China, Morocco, and Egypt have official bans on crypto usage. Egypt even takes a step further by making crypto transactions “haram” something prohibited under Islamic law.
In conclusion, adopting recurring cryptocurrency payments for your subscription-based business can offer numerous benefits, such as global reach, reduced transaction fees, and enhanced privacy and security. However, it is essential to carefully consider the associated risks and challenges, including market volatility, regulatory compliance, and the need for a reliable custodian service. By developing a clear cryptocurrency strategy, staying informed about legal requirements, and collaborating with trusted service providers, you can successfully integrate cryptocurrency payments into your business model and tap into the growing market of tech-savvy, crypto-conscious customers. Embracing this innovative payment method will not only help you stay ahead of the curve but also open up new opportunities for growth and expansion in the rapidly evolving digital economy.
Zornitsa is the Editor-in-chief at Coinlabz. She is involved in researching the impact of blockchain technology and the way crypto is transforming peoples’ perceptions of finances.