Did Brexit make cryptocurrency more appealing for local businesses?

17 March 2020

For many years now people have speculated as to whether or not local businesses stand to benefit from accepting cryptocurrency. Indeed, we raised this very question last December in our article on ‘Should Businesses in Harrogate Accept Cryptocurrencies?’

As often as the question comes up though, there never seems to be a concrete answer to it. On the one hand, as that previous article indicated, there are some trends in favour of more crypto adoption, which would make it seem prudent for businesses to get out ahead. On the other, it remains quite clear that consumers who prefer to use cryptocurrency as money represent a minoFfinrity, which in turn removes some of the incentive for businesses — in Harrogate or elsewhere — to adapt.

The disconnect may ultimately be due to the fact that while more people are showing interest in cryptocurrency, they’re doing so primarily as it relates to investment. An article by Plus500 cited crypto trading’s increasing popularity over the past decade, and pointed to various reasons for it: the various types of cryptocurrency that can be traded, the various ways to trade them, and the decentralised nature of the market, for instance. These are certainly among the factors that have steadily attracted more people to cryptocurrency, and yet they do little to incentivise consumer spending via cryptocurrency. So, heading into 2020, the broad picture made some sense: Businesses had legitimate indications of cryptos’ increasing popularity, but that increasing popularity didn’t necessarily change the practical outlook.

If that was the case heading into 2020 though, there is plenty of reason for reassessment. That reason, like so many matters relating to English finance and commerce today, comes down to Brexit. With the UK’s long-awaited break from the EU having finally occurred, it’s possible that there will be fresh incentives for businesses like many in the Harrogate area to consider accepting cryptocurrency.

First, we could find in time that regulatory changes and the shifting nature of the border invite more crypto spending opportunities. Finance Magnates looked into crypto company preparation for Brexit, and dug a little deeper into these factors. The article theorised that crypto companies “could find themselves in a more relaxed regulatory situation within the UK” following Brexit — as well as that the split could bring about increased usage of cryptocurrencies “as a method of cross-border finance.” In short, these notions suggest a post-Brexit environment that could ultimately be easier on crypto companies and more likely to persuade some consumers to seek alternatives to ordinary money.

Second, it’s fair to say that the GBP isn’t necessarily out of the woods yet where potential post-Brexit adjustments are concerned. The relative stability of the pound in the time surrounding Brexit surprised some people, and may bode well for long-term strength. However, with the newly independent UK still approaching significant trade negotiations, there is some uncertainty. As of this writing, economies are somewhat unpredictable anyway given worldwide markets’ reactions to the coronavirus pandemic. Even before this became a relevant consideration though, The Express suggested people buy euros to prepare for the potential negative effects of trade negotiations on the GBP. The purpose of this article is not to support or counter that particular idea — but if the GBP does weaken in the months ahead, cryptos’ appeal could grow.

None of this makes it easy to predict specific opportunities that could arise in Harrogate. Right now, the immediate area includes very few businesses we know to accept cryptocurrency (though it should be said that several Leeds businesses, such as Global Tribe Cafe, Jinnah Restaurant, and Your Sushi Leeds do deal in bitcoin). However, per the reasoning in our previous article cited above, Harrogate-based companies have had reason to be keeping their eye on cryptos. And given the additional factors just mentioned with regard to Brexit, we could begin to see more local businesses making the leap

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