Like other businesses, technology is an important operational component for restaurants. But are bitcoin and blockchain the right technologies for the food industry?
As it turns out, these technologies are already having an impact on the food industry. While you might not be ready to begin accepting bitcoin as payment, it’s crucial to understand the value both it and blockchain are bringing to restaurant owners.
If you’re thinking about accepting bitcoin as payment in your restaurant, you’re not alone. More than 80 restaurants in the United States alone already accept the cryptocurrency, including 22 businesses in California.
As of today, there aren’t a lot of financial benefits to accepting bitcoin in your restaurant. But that doesn’t mean there are no benefits at all. If you’re a supporter of the currency, it might be worth it to you to accept it to help show there are businesses willing to participate in bitcoin as a payment alternative.
You also might attract other bitcoin supporters as new patrons, customers who might not have considered visiting your restaurant before. And it can give you a differentiator from competitors, giving potential customers the impression that your establishment is forward thinking and technologically savvy in its operations.
If you’re interested in accepting bitcoin, you’ll need to set up a merchant account just like you do when you’re adding credit and debit card processing. Sites such as BitcoinPay, BitPay, and CoinGate all have merchant services, and many already integrate with some POS systems.
You should also consult with an accountant knowledgeable about the legal and tax challenges that accompany bitcoin acceptance. You’ll need to adapt your bookkeeping as well as your tax filings.
As mentioned in our previous article on bitcoin and blockchain, the underlying technology to the cryptocurrency has been identified as a useful tool in and of itself. There are applications across the business landscape, many of which apply to restaurants. Three big areas that are seeing progress in the food industry’s use of blockchain are reviews, ingredient assertions, and food quality.
No one would argue that false reviews can hurt a restaurant’s business. Whether that’s a negative false review from a customer or a positive fake review on a competitor’s site, these made-up reviews hurt everyone. That’s why a couple of companies – including SynchroLife – have started using blockchain to track and verify reviews. With write-ups stored in a blockchain, the reviews can’t be altered and restaurants can’t just delete a bad review or create a new account to start fresh.
Many establishments today rely on their ingredients being a differentiator for them. Whether they are gluten-free, vegan, locally-sourced, or any other of a variety of specialties, the integrity of what they provide to customers needs to be a priority. There are applications in the works that will allow restaurants and their sources to prove, for instance, that their items are sourced locally through the immutable blockchain ledger.
Or, by using something called a “smart contract” built on blockchain, a source could privately share an ingredients list with a restaurant immediately upon the execution of a non-disclosure agreement. The blockchain-based smart contract would keep the supplier’s recipe a secret, while allowing the restaurant to verify the claims of the supplier, such as buns being gluten-free or cheese being made from non-dairy sources.
Because blockchain can keep track of an item from source to buyer, a restaurant can use it to ensure both food safety and food quality. As an example, if an outbreak of salmonella is tied to a particular food, you can trace that ingredients’ origin back down the chain and know if you sourced your food from the same farm or factory as the tainted items.
Or, if the quality of ingredients from your wholesaler is hit or miss, you can help them find where the best ingredients are coming from and ask that your orders only be sourced from that high-quality upstream partner.
From adding new customers to securing and validating business differentiators, restaurants of all sizes can reap benefits in adopting these advancements. Keep watching how these new technologies evolve over time. Soon they may become part of your everyday business life!
For more on this topic, check out part 1 and part 2 of this series:
A sample of what you'll learn each month: