Will digital currency take off in UK bars?

The British hospitality industry often needs to move with the times quicker than most. Not only are British drinking and dining tastes changing, so are the ways in which people pay. Card payments across the UK overtook cash for the first time in 2018. Therefore, pubs and bars claiming that they take ‘cash only’, it seems, were at serious risk.

It’s not just cards which are changing the world of hospitality payments. The growing interest in cryptocurrency across the UK is tempting some people to consider bringing Bitcoin into the pub and bar scene. While your average pubgoer may not always think of paying in digital money, there are plenty of arguments to suggest crypto pubs are a good idea.

London’s cashless pub

The idea of a pub going completely cashless might scare some landlords and publicans. However, it’s not an entirely new concept. The Crown and Anchor, based in South London, no longer accepts cash payments at its popular location. The reason for the adaptation came partially as a result of frequent break-ins.

However, ops director Arber Rozhaja, who runs the parent group, London Village Inns, actually found that the number of cash payments in comparison with card payments at the pub were diminishing. Therefore, as of October 2019, the Crown and Anchor started refusing cash transactions altogether.

Rozhaja claims that his business has continued booming in light of the changes. In fact, more of the London Village chain have followed suit after the pilot scheme. Rozhaja states that these changes are not only more convenient for visitors, but for staff, too. There is the strong argument that it means less physical admin for pub staff at the end of an evening.

‘Apologies, but it is the digital age’, signs around the Crown and Anchor advise. Will this trend lead into a mass pub adoption of Bitcoin and other crypto?

Slow progress

While some small brands and businesses adopt crypto, there is still a lot of shakiness. UK law is not yet completely clear on where we stand with crypto as legal tender. There is also the fact that Bitcoin, in particular, is extremely volatile. The trading price for crypto is liable to go up and down at any given moment. For big chains and businesses, this is a model which might appear too risky.

However, it is clear that pubs and bars are moving with the times. We recently explained that some bars are monopolising on the CBD boom. Therefore, it might not be too adventurous to assume that UK bars will start cosying up to crypto. The success at the Crown and Anchor is a great example of how willing UK pubgoers are to simplify payments.

It is extremely easy for British people to get into cryptocurrency. New investors can download digital wallets and head to the Bitcoin Profit official site, for example, to start trading. It is something everyday people can get into in their spare time. They may not even need to pay much money into markets to make money.

How the industry could benefit

Rozhaja’s success with cashless pubs indicates how successful crypto rollout could be across the UK. Fewer physical cash transactions means less administration for bar staff. It may also mean fewer transaction fees. Ultimately, it will also mean that British pubs and bars approach customers who are moving forward with the times.

British interest in cryptocurrency appears to be rising. Bitcoin is far from mainstream at the time of writing. However, if the British hospitality industry wants to monopolise on changing tastes and conveniences, it makes sense that more businesses should start getting into emerging financial trends.

There are also many security benefits. Bitcoin and other crypto are almost impossible to counterfeit. Blockchain technology also records transactions clearly for all parties to access. Therefore, pubs and bars looking for more transactional protection may benefit from moving to a digital medium.

This also means that pubs and bars receive payments quicker. There are no waiting times for funds to process. There is very little red tape in terms of cash-counting and book-balancing. Therefore, the reasons for pubs and bars to move away from fiat cash are building.

What the future holds

What does the future hold for cryptocurrency in the hospitality industry? The Crown and Anchor is an example of how pub and bar businesses can continue to thrive in the digital age, but with UK laws still being shaky on crypto in general, it may take bigger chains some time to cosy up to the idea.

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