Retailers were already skeptical about letting customers pay with bitcoin before the cryptocurrency’s price underwent an astronomical rally this year. That rapid surge hasn’t made them any more accepting. In fact, it may have done the opposite.
Bitcoin is currently accepted at just three of the top 500 online merchants tracked by the trade publication Internet Retailer, down from five last year, Morgan Stanley payments analyst James Faucette wrote Wednesday in a report, highlighting the “striking” discrepancy between virtually no merchant acceptance and bitcoin’s recent gains. “Bitcoin owners are reluctant to use the cryptocurrency given its rate of appreciation, more evidence that bitcoin is more asset than currency,” Faucette said. “Way easier to trade speculatively than convince new merchants to accept the cryptocurrency.” The hesitance among retailers may also be linked to bitcoin’s scaling challenges, as transactions become slower and more costly, he added.
The consumer, rather than the retailer, bears that cost, which can vary depending on how the transaction in conducted. Some cryptocurrency users no longer see the point in using bitcoin for small purchases given increased transaction fees, Atlantic Financial founder Bruce Fenton said in an interview last month. “There’s a problem with the fees being so high — it does price out certain things,” said Fenton, who is a board member at the Bitcoin Foundation. “There are some micro transaction uses cases — a cup of coffee is the big analogy everybody uses — that are being sort of priced out just because bitcoin is going up so much.”
Overstock.com Inc. board member Jonathan Johnson said in May that the number of bitcoin transactions on the discount retail website had actually tripled since the company introduced the cryptocurrency as a payment method in 2014.
Overstock brings in “as much as £5 million per year” from bitcoin, said Johnson, who is also the president of Overstock’s blockchain subsidiary.
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The SCTE/ISBE1 has named Pioneer Communications’ Raul Velasquez, Jr. and Comcast’s Aaron Weimer Chapter Members of the Year. Velasquez, who serves as treasurer of SCTE/ISBE’s High Plains Chapter, and Weimer, vice president of the Chattahoochee Chapter, both were recognized for their outstanding contributions to their chapters through active participation in programs and other efforts. The tie marks only the third time since the award’s inception that it has been shared between two recipients. A cable service specialist from Ulysses, KS, Velasquez has been an SCTE/ISBE member for 20 years.
He played a leadership role in the creation of the High Plains Meeting Group and has continued to support High Plains’ member base through the transition into an official SCTE/ISBE chapter. While he officially serves as the chapter’s treasurer, he also sends out training announcements, helps with the chapter golf tournament and Vendor Days, and is involved in ensuring the availability of high levels of training. Weimer, a seven-year SCTE/ISBE member, serves as vice president, engineering and XOC, for Comcast’s Central Division. In his current role, he has been active in ensuring coordination and integration between the Central Division and the Chattahoochee Chapter, including efforts to increase membership, attendance and communications effectiveness. Weimer has chaired the chapter’s golf tournament and Vendor Days, and he has strengthened the chapter’s foundation by improving the member communications infrastructure and by partnering with Comcast University on chapter events.
“In many ways, SCTE/ISBE’s value to operator, technology partner and individual members begins at the chapter level,” said Robin Fenton, senior director, chapter support and membership for SCTE/ISBE. “Raul Velasquez, Jr., and Aaron Weimer exemplify the commitment and dedication that helps SCTE/ISBE build value for the industry at every level.”
The SCTE/ISBE’s other chapter awards for this year were presented last month at the Society’s annual Chapter Leadership Conference in Denver.
Openreach apprentice engineer, Rob Briggs, is temporarily hanging up his hi-viz and heading to Wembley to play in the final of the FA Vase. Mid-fielder Rob, who plays for South Shields Football Club, will be hitting the hallowed turf as the team take on Cleethorpes Town on May 21. Rob, who is 25 and lives in Washington, joined Openreach as an apprentice in 2014 and is just about to become a fully-fledged engineer as he nears completion of his apprenticeship. But when he’s not helping to connect people homes up to superfast broadband he spends every spare minute playing the beautiful game.
Rob said: “Before I joined Openreach I did a degree in sport and was playing semi-professional football. Unfortunately an injury meant I had to consider a less risky, long-term career and I decided to head in a different direction.
“An apprenticeship was the perfect solution as I could earn a decent wage, get more qualifications without any debt and, once I was back to full fitness, I signed for South Shields and haven’t looked back.
“One day I’m installing new lines, fixing faults and connecting up superfast broadband and the next I’m playing football. Every day is different and I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.
“I feel really lucky to be able to work in a great job, building a long term career while still pursuing my passion for football.”
It’s not the first time Robert has made it to a final at Wembley. Shortly before joining Openreach his then team, West Auckland, also made it to the final of the FA Vase. Unfortunately, the team was defeated 1-0 so Robert is hoping that history will not be repeated on May 21st. He said: “It would be amazing if we won the league and we’re certainly heading there with the intention to bring back the trophy for the fans.
To win at Wembley would be a dream come true.”
Michael Sowiak, Openreach operations manager, said: “Rob is a great ambassador for apprenticeships and a huge asset to our team. We’re all really proud of his ‘other career’ and will be tuning in to watch the game and to hopefully see South Shields win.”
The match will be televised live on BT Sport on May 21st with a 12:15pm kick off. Around 10,000 South Shields fans are expected to travel to Wembley for the game. Graham Fenton, South Shields FC joint manager, said: “It’s great for Rob and the rest of the lads who get to play on the biggest stage of all and we are all looking forward to our big day. It’s going to be a day to remember for the club and the fans but having the game televised will mean every single fan can be a part of it.
We’ll be giving it our all to bring the trophy back to South Tyneside.”
Openreach has recently announced they are recruiting a further 80 trainee engineers across the North East as part of a UK-wide initiative to hire 1,500 trainee engineers over the next eight months. The local network business, which is part of BT Group, will be seeking recruits from across the region to fill the new, full-time and permanent roles to extend its fibre broadband network, improve customer service and keep the North East connected. Across the UK, Openreach has hired 5,000 engineers and more than 900 apprentices and graduates over the last four years.