Shiels, the Adelaide-based jewellery retailer with 15 stores in South Australia, 16 in WA and 9 in Queensland, is leading the way in the Bitcoin revolution.
According to managing director Toby Bensimon, the family-owned business is the first jewellery retailer in Australia to begin accepting the crypto currency for online purchases.
He said the company took on Bitcoin in November after reading about many multi-site retailers offering it as a form of payment in the US.
“Prior to launching we had discussions with our bank’s online division who outlined the risks and opportunities and they seemed acceptable,” he said.
“Previously we would have three to four fraudulent online purchases a week, whereas in the last three months there have been zero fraudulent transactions via Bitcoin.”
Bensimon readily admits that the digital currency is “still not huge” in Australia when compared with other online payment methods such as credit card and Paypal but argues that Bitcoin is often “more than just an alternative payment method” for customers in many countries outside the developed world which have “have very low levels of credit card issuance”.
“We refuse credit card payments from many such countries yet we have never refused customers from the same countries who choose to use Bitcoin as it represents zero risk in my opinion.”
“Bitcoin opens up our customer base to include the entire world.
“We often forget that this is one of the safest countries with some of the strictest regulations for trading out of any country in the world and that we are viewed as safe place to buy.
“Bitcoin has made international transactions tamper-proof and risk-free in a safe currency – that is a compelling proposition.”
While happy with Shiels’ Bitcoin experience thus far Bensimon is well aware that the currency is not without its detractors.
“The currency is misunderstood as an underworld currency linked to companies like Silk Road,” he said.
“This redundant argument can be applied to cash in exactly the same way yet we do not malign it in the same way.
“… Once you’ve experimented with this currency you learn that it is effectively a zero-risk proposition.”
Bensimon is therefore confident that other Australian jewellery retailers will gradually begin accepting bitcoins for online payments.
“I believe there will be adopters of Bitcoin, as there were with Paypal and other fraud resistant forms of payment, in Australia.
“Bitcoin has had negative media exposure to date, so it will take time for this misconception to change.”