Looking for the next generation of customers
Stop in at any of the more than 30 Waves Coffee House locations in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area and you're likely to experience some superb freshly brewed coffee, gracious service, and warm hospitality (hence the "Waves" name, as in waving to a friend across the room). It's been that way since 2005 when the company was founded in downtown Vancouver, and Waves has continued to look for ways to set itself apart from its competition.
Then, in 2013, the merchant added something else that it hoped would bring in additional customers -- beyond its fine coffee beans, rooibos iced teas and expanding food menu: bitcoin acceptance.
Driving traffic to the stores
Waves Coffee House installed its first bitcoin ATM at its Howe Street coffee shop in Vancouver, in October 2013. It then added a second bitcoin ATM at one of its Calgary locations.
"In the two coffee shops that currently have bitcoin ATMs, we also accept bitcoin at the point of sale," says John Murray, Waves' operations general manager. "If you don't have enough bitcoins for your coffee purchase, you can get more bitcoins at the ATM, so you don’t have to use cash or cards. And we put a sticker in the window saying that we accept bitcoin."
Murray says he expects to see a 10-percent increase in sales in 2014 compared to 2013 for the Waves stores with bitcoin ATMs. "This is attributable to our bitcoin ATMs and bitcoin acceptance, and also to other factors such as marketing promotions and offers," he says. "We are definitely pleased with our experience of bitcoin."
"In our coffee shops that have bitcoin ATMs, we see regular customers coming in daily to buy and sell bitcoins at the ATMs," he adds. "Maybe they don’t hold stocks, so bitcoin is the equivalent of a stock for them. Bitcoin definitely drives traffic to our stores."
By the end of this year, Waves will have installed two additional bitcoin ATMs -- one in Vancouver and one in Edmonton, making a total of four locations with bitcoin ATMs.
If a retailer or restaurant accepts bitcoin at the point-of-sale, it's not necessary to have a bitcoin ATM, says Murray. "But I think it's a good thing to install a bitcoin ATM. There are consumers who won't trade stocks but they will trade in bitcoin. Our policy is that we wouldn't want to have bitcoin ATMs in our coffee shops that are close to each other -- we want our bitcoin ATMs to be spread out."
'Acceptance has to be efficient'
In 2015, Waves Coffee House will roll out bitcoin acceptance at the point-of-sale in all of its stores.
Waves opted to integrate bitcoin acceptance into its POS terminals, says Murray, because this is more efficient than having to use a stand-alone acceptance device. "In a coffee shop, bitcoin acceptance has to be efficient, so we didn’t want double-entry. We also don’t hold any bitcoins."
"Since coffee purchases are low-ticket transactions, we don’t wait for the full 10-minute block chain confirmation," he adds.
Murray recommends that coffee shops and restaurants accept bitcoin. "Bitcoin is not going away," he says. It represents a fundamental change in the entire monetary system. Retailers or restaurants that are targeting millennials have to offer bitcoin acceptance. At Waves, we're looking for the next generation of customers, which is why we accept bitcoin."
Adapted from "Virtual Currency 101 for Restaurants," by Robin Arnfield. The white paper is available as a free download herefrom Virtual Currency Today.