Inicialmente inventado como una alternativa descentralizada a los medios de pago tradicionales, bitcoin finalmente se ha convertido en el vehículo favorito para los comerciantes que pueden soportar ganancias y pérdidas extremas debido a su volatilidad. Sin embargo, a medida que su popularidad crece en los últimos años, los comercios ahora también lo aceptan como medio de pago junto con las monedas fiat.

Es de destacar que las tiendas de lujo también comienzan a subirse a este tren. Aurae Lifestyle ha sido testigo de un crecimiento significativo en las compras de lujo debido a la reciente apreciación del bitcoin.

Hemos decidido realizar nuestra propia investigación en esta área para averiguar qué motiva a compradores y vendedores a cambiarse a este medio de pago de alta tecnología, los obstáculos experimentados y los beneficios obtenidos.

Las marcas de lujo comienzan a aceptar bitcoin

Antes de 2017, solo un puñado de comercios de lujo aceptaban bitcoin como forma de pago. Algunas tiendas online colocaban tímidamente sus direcciones BTC en el pie de página de sus sitios web con la esperanza de que los usuarios conocedores del tema encontraran la manera de realizar el pago, pero eso era básicamente todo. Ahora que Shopify ha habilitado oficialmente los pagos con cripto en su plataforma y que Woocommerce admite complementos para este propósito, las cosas se han vuelto mucho más fáciles para todas las partes involucradas.

Algunas de las grandes marcas de lujo que ya han habilitado los pagos con cripto en sus sitios web incluyen a:

Travala.com: esta agencia de viajes de lujo no solo ofrece bitcoin como medio de pago, sino también una amplia variedad de altcoins para el pago junto con los métodos tradicionales fiat.

Hublot: el relojero de lujo Swill ha anunciado recientemente planes para emitir relojes que solo se pueden comprar con bitcoin.

Las plantas de Louis Vuitton, Cartier y Prada planean utilizar blockchain para rastrear mercancía falsificada.

A medida que las marcas de lujo más grandes y establecidas adopten la cadena de bloques y las criptomonedas, las empresas más pequeñas seguramente seguirán su ejemplo. Al igual que otras innovaciones, la cadena de bloques y la criptomoneda tienen ventajas y desventajas para todos los participantes del proceso.

Ventajas para los compradores

Los grandes comercios tienen la mentalidad de que el cliente es lo primero, así que echemos un vistazo a los posibles beneficios que obtienen los compradores de lujo cuando sus marcas favoritas permiten pagar con criptomonedas.

  • Transacciones instantáneas: con bitcoin, el tiempo promedio para que se confirme una transacción depende del tiempo necesario para que se cree un nuevo bloque, que es de 10 minutos en promedio. Este tiempo puede ser más largo cuando la red está congestionada, pero nunca supera las dos horas. Además de bitcoin, también existen otras altcoins como TRX y EOS que permiten confirmar transacciones en cuestión de segundos. Si deseas comprar artículos de lujo con criptomonedas, pregunta si tu boutique de elección también acepta estos métodos.
  • Compras transfronterizas (internacionales): los bancos y otros servicios financieros centralizados suelen ofrecer sus servicios dentro de las fronteras de sus jurisdicciones y las grandes compras transfronterizas suelen implicar transferencias bancarias internacionales. Si bien los servicios de pago como PayPal se diseñaron inicialmente específicamente para este propósito, los límites de tamaño de las transacciones suprimen la cantidad de compras de lujo a gran escala que pueden facilitar. Para compras más pequeñas, las tarifas de transacción juegan un papel fundamental a la hora de determinar si las compras se realizarán mediante PayPal.

    Con las criptomonedas, las tarifas de la red se determinan a Satoshis por Vbytes (sats / vByte), y la cantidad de BTC enviada no influye en sats / vByte, sino más bien en la congestión de la red y el peso del bloque. Como tal, para una compra grande, las tarifas de la red no dependen del precio de compra. Una analogía para la persona común sería el tráfico de vehículos, los peajes y el tiempo de espera. Los peajes pagados son independientes del valor del vehículo y el tiempo de espera depende totalmente del tráfico en la cabina de peaje (tarifas de la red). Dada esta dicotomía, las compras de lujo en ciertos casos pueden ser viables al usar criptomonedas.

  • Transparencia: cada transacción en cripto se registra en un libro de contabilidad público para que cualquier parte interesada la verifique. Los compradores no tendrían dificultades para probar su pago, ya que simplemente pueden mostrar el enlace con la confirmación de la transacción.

Preocupaciones de los compradores

Si bien comprar con BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda tiene ciertas ventajas, existen preocupaciones que los consumidores deben conocer. Las criptomonedas se encuentran en etapas tempranas en comparación con los métodos de pago tradicionales y también vienen con una serie de advertencias sobre fraude que los usuarios deben tener en cuenta. Con las criptomonedas, no hay forma de deshacer una transacción o de obtener un reembolso una vez completada. Esto, desafortunadamente, atrae a personas con una propensión natural a cometer fraude. Por lo tanto, depende del comprador confiar. Para evitar tal situación, verifica las credenciales del comercio de lujo antes de realizar un pedido. Los sitios web que ofrecen reseñas de terceros, como Trustpilot, también pueden resultar útiles a la hora de hacer tu investigación.

  • La volatilidad crea incertidumbre: no es ningún secreto que bitcoin es bastante volátil. El reloj de lujo que hoy cuesta $ 10,000 puede perder un porcentaje considerable de su valor en un solo día. ¿Puede la tienda de lujo de tu elección soportar esta volatilidad? ¿Su modelo de negocio es lo suficientemente sólido? Asegúrate de que la empresa tenga una formación sólida y estudia con quién estás tratando antes de realizar cualquier pago.
  • Tarifas altas cuando la red está congestionada: Bitcoin, debido a sus características técnicas, impone tarifas de red muy altas cuando demasiadas personas intentan enviar fondos a través de la red al mismo tiempo. Esto suele ocurrir aproximadamente una vez cada 3 años cuando los precios de BTC aumentan y todos se vuelven locos. Considera realizar pagos con TRX y otras criptomonedas alternativas si la congestión es demasiado alta.
  • Se requieren conocimientos técnicos básicos: las criptomonedas fueron creadas y adoptadas por técnicos que se enorgullecen de hablar su propio idioma. Desafortunadamente, esto requiere cierta fluidez y conocimiento sobre sus protocolos y procesos. Por lo tanto, es importante tener algunas habilidades técnicas básicas.

Beneficios para los comercios

Ahora bien, ¿qué ventajas ofrecen las criptomonedas para los comercios? Descubrimos cuatro beneficios de aceptar criptomonedas durante nuestras conversaciones con los propietarios de tiendas de lujo:

Huella geográfica ampliada: con las criptomonedas, los comercios pueden aceptar fácilmente pagos de clientes de todo el mundo. Ya no es necesario limitar a los clientes a una región específica debido a los protocolos del procesador de pagos. 

Base de clientes ampliada: no solo se establece la huella geográfica, sino que muchos de los primeros en adoptar bitcoin han migrado de compradores del mercado masivo a compradores de lujo. Si bien no sabemos quiénes son, según CBS News, hay casi 100,000 millonarios de bitcoin recién acuñados.

Reducir los costos de la infraestructura bancaria: los costos de configurar una billetera para aceptar BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda son insignificantes en comparación con las tarifas bancarias y las tarifas del procesador de pagos centralizado.

“Holla Back” en las devoluciones de dinero: con las criptomonedas, los comercios controlan el proceso de reembolso y no están sujetos a los caprichos de los clientes que abusan de los privilegios de devolución de dinero.

Preocupaciones de los comercios

Por supuesto, con los beneficios, también existen desafíos y problemas que los comercios también deben considerar si deciden aceptar BTC y otras criptomonedas.

Preguntas legales: dado que las criptomonedas no están controladas por ninguna entidad central, surgen muchas preguntas sobre su estado legal. Hay solo un pequeño puñado de países donde Bitcoin se define como un medio de pago legal. Otros lo prohíben estrictamente o no brindan ningún recurso ni orientación, lo que deja a las criptomonedas en un área gris. 

Si has decidido aceptar BTC o cualquier otra criptomoneda como método de pago, consulta a tu abogado fiscal, tu contador fiscal y tus representantes legales para asegurarte de que cumples con las regulaciones de tu jurisdicción.

Volatilidad: este problema es quizás el más grave para los comerciantes que pueden perder sus ingresos en un corto período de tiempo cuando el precio de BTC cae abruptamente. Para evitar tal situación. Considera convertir BTC en una moneda estable como USDT o USDC inmediatamente después de recibir el pago o agregar estas monedas a la lista de opciones disponibles.

Envíos al extranjero: si bien las criptomonedas facilitan la aceptación de pagos transfronterizos, el envío es otro proceso importante. Si decides expandir tu geografía, piensa detenidamente cómo vas a entregar los productos a tus clientes.

Implementación técnica: si bien hay una gran cantidad de herramientas para automatizar los procesos de pago fiat, las herramientas no son tan variadas para las criptomonedas. Simplemente puedes poner tu dirección BTC en la lista de opciones de pago disponibles, pero la falta de automatización agrega complejidades técnicas. Si tu sitio web se ejecuta en Woocommerce o Shopify, puedes hacer uso de sus complementos integrados. Alternativamente, es posible que desees aplicar algunas herramientas proporcionadas por aplicaciones de terceros como Bitpay.

Las criptomonedas representan una herramienta de alta tecnología diseñada para resolver problemas específicos de los sistemas de pago centralizados. Dado que este sistema en sí es relativamente nuevo, naturalmente se esperaría que los desafíos enumerados anteriormente inhibieran la adopción por parte de muchos comercios. Las boutiques y otros comerciantes de lujo deben sopesar todas las alternativas antes de implementar las criptomonedas como métodos de pago.

Las top 3 boutiques de lujo que aceptan criptomonedas

A pesar de los obstáculos, algunos comerciantes se arriesgan. A continuación, te daremos un resumen rápido de 3 tiendas populares en el segmento de lujo donde se pueden comprar joyas, relojes y otros artículos exclusivos con cripto.

Bitdials.eu

Antecedentes: lanzada en 2016, Bitdials se posiciona como la primera boutique de lujo exclusiva de bitcoin del mundo. Entre los artículos de lujo que se ofrecen en la plataforma, se pueden encontrar relojes, joyas, oro, licores, automóviles y diferentes artículos de estilo como bolsos de cuero, cinturones y encendedores. Sin embargo, la tienda no vende nada por sí sola. En cambio, actúa como un distribuidor que ayuda a los compradores a encontrar la mejor opción. Además de BTC, los clientes pueden pagar con ethers y algunas otras altcoins.

Estadísticas de tráfico: debido a su longevidad, Bitdials.eu ha logrado atraer una audiencia sólida. El tráfico del sitio ha aumentado de 10.000 a casi 100.000 visitas únicas por mes según Similarweb.

Comentarios de los clientes: TrustPilot otorga a BitDials la mejor evaluación, ya que su calificación promedio es de 4.9 estrellas de 5 según más de 190 reseñas. Los clientes elogian la plataforma por el proceso de envío sin problemas, el excelente servicio y la puntualidad.

Infografía: Bitdials 4,9 / 5 estrellas. De diez mil a cien mil visitantes únicos al mes.

Ventajas: 

la tienda más vieja y más confiada

tiene de todo

Contras:

debes comprar artículos a través de proveedores externos.

Infographic: Bitdials 4.9/5 star rating. Ten-thousand to One hundred-thousand unique visitors a month. Pros: number 1 it is the oldest and most trusted, and number 2 it has pretty much everything. Cons: you must purchase items through third party vendors. Interesting Finds from Bitdials: 1. A classy black and white wrist watch with a big round face (Blancpain Villeret Watch for 0.467280 bitcoin). 2. An extravagant gold and diamond encrusted watch with a rectangular face (Cartier Tank Anglaise for 4.860000 Bitcoin). 3. A shiny grey supercar with eye-catching orange brakes peeking through the hubcaps (McLaren 720S Spider 4.0 V8 Performance for 15.783552 Bitcoin). A dark grey four door electric car (Tesla Model X for 5.757696 Bitcoin).

 

Bitluxuria.com

Antecedentes: Bitluxuria es una boutique de lujo más que acepta criptomonedas como único medio de pago. La gama de productos es limitada, ya que se centran principalmente en joyas y relojes, con preferencia por opciones más pequeñas y refinadas. La empresa está registrada oficialmente en Nueva York, Nueva York, EE. UU. Junto con Bitcoin, los clientes también pueden realizar pagos utilizando Litecoin.

Estadísticas de tráfico: 1.000 visitantes únicos al mes según SEMrush.

Reseñas de clientes: Bitluxuria está ligeramente por detrás de Bitdials en lo que respecta a las calificaciones, pero sus calificaciones son muy sólidas con un promedio de 4.5 estrellas basado en más de 20 reseñas en TrustPilot. El equipo que respalda el proyecto tiene un enfoque personal para cada uno de sus clientes y también brinda un servicio de primera.

Ventajas: 

selección curada por expertos

no compras a terceros

Contras:

los bienes disponibles son limitados

Infographic: BitLuxuria 4.5/5 Star Rating. One-thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: 1 expertly curated selction, and 2 buy direct with no third party sellers. Cons: the range of goods available is somewhat limited. Interesting Finds from Bit Luxuria: Number 1: A silver necklace with GIANT green gemstones that looks like it might be fit for royalty (BVLGARI Festa Necklace for 0.3727 Bitcoin). Number 2: A watch made of solid with highly intricate gearing visible behind the round face (Patek Philippe Complications for 3.1474 Bitcoin). Number 3: A sporty looking luxury watch that has every square inch covered in small diamonds (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 4.269 Bitcoin). Number 4: A very classy but understated gold watch with a round brown face and brown leather straps that looks like it would be right at home in an old cigar-tasting room (Cartier Rotunde de Cartier for 1.7607 Bitcoin).

 

Delouvois.com

Antecedentes: De Louvois existe desde 2016 y ha logrado ampliar significativamente la gama de productos ofrecidos. Su público objetivo consiste en emprendedores tecnológicos exitosos, adoptadores de Bitcoin y comerciantes profesionales. La propia empresa reside en Versalles, Francia.

Si deseas saber más sobre Delouvois, consulta nuestra entrevista con el fundador de De Louvois, Matthiew Michard.

Además de los relojes y las joyas tradicionales, el sitio web ofrece automóviles, obras de arte e incluso bienes raíces. El enfoque principal de la empresa, según Michard, siempre ha estado en las artes. Dado que la mayoría de las tiendas en línea que venden obras de arte en criptomoneda tienen problemas de diseño y una experiencia de usuario deficiente, De Louvois se esfuerza por “aportar algo de glamour a una industria que realmente lo necesita”.

Estadísticas de tráfico: 45.000 visitantes únicos al mes según SEMrush.

Ventajas: esta boutique es una boutique que recuerda a las boutiques de antaño, de masters antiguos a las finas artes.

Contras: poca cantidad de arte contemporáneo.

De Louvois. Trustworthiness rating not yet available. Forty-five thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: this botique is excellent at "old world luxury," from "old masters" fine art to antiques. Cons: underwhelming contemporary art selection, aside from a few stand-outs. Interesting finds from De Louvois: Number 1: A vibrant painting of a butterfly cut-out made by world-famous artist Damian Hirst in 2009 (selling for 0.32354 Bitcoin). Number 2: A nineteenth century "old master" painting by an unknown French artist of a young shepherd boy holding a white goat (for 0.02480 Bitcoin). Number 3: A Parisian Penthouse in the sixteenth arrondissement with a quaint balcony garden with little red flowers cheerfully overlooking the city (for 58.07081 Bitcoin). Number 4: A highly intricate wooden Louis the fourteenth desk with marquetery made circa 1700 (price listed as "available upon request").

Nuestra opinión

Los gerentes de relaciones de Aurae Lifestyle están equipados de manera única para abastecer, adquirir y guiar en el proceso de compra de artículos de lujo a nivel mundial. Además, nuestras relaciones globales en la industria de viajes nos posicionan bien para brindar valor real a nuestros clientes. Desde aviación privada hasta servicios comerciales de primera clase, propiedades vacacionales de lujo y experiencias de destino única, el equipo de Aurae está preparado para planificar y brindarte apoyo mientras disfrutas de la vida que has creado. Los miembros de Aurae Lifestyle disfrutan de este beneficio sin costo alguno. ¿No eres miembro de Aurae Lifestyle? Si calificas, definitivamente te alentamos a que examines si la membresía es adecuada para ti. Incluso si la membresía no es adecuada, te recomendamos que te comuniques con uno de nuestros gerentes de relaciones si necesitas ayuda para realizar una compra de lujo transfronteriza de alto valor.

Common Purchases

AL: “What do your customers buy the most often using crypto?”

MM: To be fair, it is still very early to notice any serious trends or patterns in that regard. We started De Louvois back in late 2016 when one Bitcoin was worth around $500, estimating that it would probably take a minimum of $250,000 per coin for the first significant cohort of adopters to start spending some of their coins and become regular customers and validate our business model.

We understood that this was a long-term bet that required a long-term vision. We believe this lack of long-term vision was the reason why similar initiatives such as BitPremier or The White Company ended up quitting. Until then, it will be our job to iterate, guess and adapt our offer based on data and by talking to our users.

[A note from Aurae Lifestyle: BitPremier was a bitcoin marketplace providing luxury items for crypto, the website is not operating anymore. The White Company started out selling luxury for cryptocurrencies as well, but then gave up on the whole enterprise and now only accept PayPal and a credit cards as payment options.]

What I can tell you for sure is that our primary focus has always been on the Arts, and there is a reason for that. It is no secret that the blockchain industry has huge issues with user experience and design. 99% of cryptocurrency-oriented services are ugly, dry, and frankly user-hostile.

Just open any online wallet or exchange to make sure yourself. And of course, the most glaring example of the lacking artistic vision in this industry is definitely Bitcointalk.org

We believe that Art and Artists will play a decisive role in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, just like they did during the personal computer revolution, thanks to companies like Apple working so closely with exceptional artists and designers. And that is exactly where we see De Louvois’ contribution and added value: bringing some glamour to an industry that really needs it.

Exotic purchases

AL:  “What are the most interesting items purchased on your website?”

MM: I can not tell you much about what people have been buying over the past years, but we certainly receive some “exotic” listing requests from time to time. 

The most peculiar request that we had to deal with came from a Canadian dog breeder who wanted to sell Canadian Eskimo Dogs on our marketplace. 

The dogs seemed happy and certainly well-fed, but we ended up turning down the offer due to our concerns that these “luxury dogs” may end up taking the place of a shelter dog while it did not seem fair to the 1.5 million shelter dogs being euthanized each year.

AL:  “Did they try to purchase it with Dogecoin?”

MM: Ha!, No.

Regional Purchases

AL: “Which region do most of your customers come from? Are there any customers from Latin America or Spain?”

MM: The funny thing with borderless permissionless cryptocurrencies is that you never know who will be knocking at your door. For that, we surely do get some surprises now and then. With that being said, most of our traffic and customers are US-based anglophones, and this is the segment that we are currently focused on. 

Latin America is a market that we really want to explore, though. Cryptocurrencies always had a natural synergy with these populations, for various reasons. It is pretty clear that countries like Venezuela dealing with major inflation issues on a daily basis will come to adopt these technologies in the most organic and natural way.

We are currently discussing this matter with a couple of South American jewelers and winemakers, so you can expect to see something pretty soon on our website.

Transaction Speeds

AL: “How long does a typical transaction take? How much time is required for the object to be delivered to the recipient after bitcoins have reached your wallet?”

Our partner vendors are expected to ship the purchased goods as soon as the transaction has gained 5 confirmations on the network (they receive an automatic email for that).

Here is how it works. Once customers reach our check-out page, they can pay with Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.

All incoming amounts are then converted to a stable coin USDC backed by Circle and Coinbase for a small fee of around 0.5%. Alternatively, customers can choose to pay using USDC straight away in order to save the fees.

This method allows us to freeze the price, effectively shielding both vendors and buyers from the inherent volatility of traditional non-stable cryptocurrencies. Without that method, doing business with cryptocurrencies in a professional manner would be impossible.

Miners Fees

AL: “Do you include miners fees in the price or do you cover them yourself?”

MM: Miner fees are clearly the biggest threat that our industry will have to tackle if it wants to become appealing to retail consumers and not just speculators.

The recent spike of fees on Bitcoin and Ethereum networks has made micropayments a thing of the past and rendered the entire Ethereum ecosystem as good as useless. Just think of it: transaction fees have exploded from a couple of cents in 2019 to nearly $75 in May 2021, before settling down around $15.

Luckily, we cater to items worth $500+, so the risk/benefit ratio still makes sense from an economical point of view, even with a flat $15 Ethereum transaction fee. 

Also, if you compare that $15 fee to a retail payment processor like PayPal, it’s still a pretty good deal. Paypal charges sellers up to 4.4% for international transactions and may charge buyers an optional 4.5% when a currency conversion is needed. So in the case of a $500 item, the Ethereum transaction fee is still cheaper than PayPal.

Bottom line is, we try to be flexible and absorb miner fees within our commission. The only reason we are able to do that is because we cater to relatively pricey items.

Other companies that have a smaller average cheque and deal with Ethereum-based microtransactions are currently in a much worse position than us, that’s for sure.

Increasing Transaction Speeds

AL: What are your recommendations for speeding up transactions?

MM: As a luxury marketplace, our mission is to provide the easiest and safest experience possible to both our customers and vendors. Consequently, we are extremely careful when considering and testing new solutions. 

We frequently monitor new initiatives trying to tackle this problem. Amongst other solutions, we are aware that Tron-based Tethers are becoming quite popular, but at this moment, we do not plan to switch from our current method (mostly for liquidity and security concerns) although that may change in the future when their blockchain becomes more mature and secure. 

As stated earlier, De Louvois is a long-term bet, and we are confident that the Ethereum team will solve their scalability and network fees problems with the incoming 2.0 release and the adoption of Proof of Stake consensus.

High fees won’t be life-threatening to us in the near future, although they currently prevent us from distributing our cryptocurrency, the Franc Louvois (LVF), to our vendors, business partners, and customers. That is indeed a huge drag, but we will just have to deal with it in the meantime.

As far as Bitcoin fees are concerned… Well, my best guess is that the Bitcoin core team pretty much caved in on the idea of digital cash, and decided to focus on the “store of value narrative”.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any progress or plans being made to address the scalability issues of this network. Timid attempts such as Lightning Network are anything but sufficient at the moment, so that is where we are for now.

A 1984 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV, available on DeLouvois for ฿ 8.22349 .

 

An old oil painting sits on an easel in a room of French antiques.

A 20th Century Italian Painting depicting a Landscape with Figures, available on DeLouvois for ฿0.04870 .

 

A samurai helmet from three angles on a marbled background.

Early 18th Century full suit of Japanese Gusoku style Samurai Armor, available on DeLouvois for ฿ 0.17421.

Initially invented as a decentralized alternative to traditional means of payment, Bitcoin has eventually become a favored vehicle for traders that can bear extreme gains and losses thanks to its volatility. However, as its popularity has grown over the past few years, merchants are now accepting it along with fiat currencies as well.

Of note, luxury shops start jumping on this train as well. Aurae Lifestyle has witnessed significant growth in luxury purchases due to the recent appreciation of Bitcoin.

We’ve decided to conduct our own research in this area to find out what motivates buyers and sellers to switch to this hi-tech means of payment, obstacles experienced and benefits obtained.

Luxury brands start accepting Bitcoin

Prior to 2017, only a handful of adventurous luxury merchants accepted Bitcoin as a form of payment. Some online shops would timidly place their BTC addresses somewhere in the footer of their webpages hoping that savvy users would find their way to make the payment, but that was basically it. Now that Shopify has officially enabled crypto payments on its platform and Woocommerce supports a whole suite of plugins for this purpose, things have become much easier for all the parties involved in the process.

Some of the big luxury brands that have already enabled crypto payments on their websites include:

Travala.com: this luxury travel agency offers not only Bitcoin but also a wide variety of altcoins for payment along with traditional fiat-based methods.

Hublot: the Swill luxury watchmaker has recently announced plans to issue watches that can only be bought for Bitcoin.

Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Prada plant to use blockchain for tracking counterfeit merchandise.  

As larger and established luxury brands embrace the blockchain and cryptocurrency as business as usual, smaller companies are sure to follow suit. Just like other innovations, the blockchain and cryptocurrency come with pros and cons for all participants of the process.

Buyers Advantages

All great merchants have a customer first mindset, so let’s take a look at potential benefits luxury buyers gain when their favorite brands add cryptocurrency to the list of accepted forms of payment.

  • Instant transactions: With Bitcoin, the average time needed for a transaction to be confirmed depends on the time needed for a new block to be created which is 10 minutes on average. This time may be longer when the network is congested, but still, it is never higher than a couple of hours.  In addition to Bitcoin, there are also other altcoins such as TRX and EOS that allow confirming transactions in mere seconds. If you want to buy luxury goods with cryptocurrency,  ask if your boutique of choice accepts these methods as well.
  • Crossborder (international) purchases: Banks and other centralized financial services typically offer their services within the borders of their jurisdictions and large purchases across borders typically involve international wire transfers and depending upon the merchant and the customer’s international limits, credit card transactions. While payment services such as PayPal  were initially designed specifically for this purpose, transaction size limits suppress the amount of large scale luxury purchases they can facilitate. For smaller purchases, transaction fees play a critical role in determining if purchases will be made using PayPa. With cryptocurrency, network fees are determined at a Satoshis per Vbytes (sats/vByte), and the amount of BTC sent does not influence sats/vByte but rather network congestion and the weight of the block.  As such, for a large purchase, network fees are not dependent upon the purchase price. An analogy for the common person would be vehicle traffic, tolls and wait time.  Tolls paid are independent of the value of the vehicle and the time you wait is totally dependent upon traffic at the toll booth (network fees). Given this dichotomy, luxury purchases in certain cases may be viable when using cryptocurrency.
  • Transparency: Every transaction in crypto is registered on a public ledger for any interested party to verify. Buyers would have no difficulty proving their payment as they can simply show the link with transaction confirmation.

Buyers Concerns

While buying with BTC or any other crypto has certain advantages, there are concerns that consumers should be aware of.  Cryptocurrencies are in a nascent form when compared to traditional methods of payment and they come with a number of caveats that users should be aware of Fraud. With cryptocurrencies, there is no way to undo a transaction or to get a refund once completed. This, unfortunately, attracts individuals with a natural proclivity to commit fraud.  So, it is up to the buyer to trust but verify the merchant in order to have any type of recourse if there are transaction problems. To avoid such a scenario, verify the credentials of the luxury merchant prior to placing an order. Websites providing third-party reviews such as Trustpilot can also be useful when conducting your research.

  • Volatility creates uncertainty: It’s no secret that Bitcoin is pretty volatile. The luxury watch that today costs $10,000 may lose a sizable percentage of its value in a single day. Can the luxury shop of your choice stomach this volatility? Is their business model strong enough? Make sure that the company has a solid background and study who you are dealing with before you make any payment.
  • High fees when the network is congested: Bitcoin, due to its technical characteristics, imposes very high network fees when too many people try to send funds over the network at the same time. This usually happens approximately once in 3 years when BTC price surges making everyone crazy about it. Consider making payments with TRX and other alternative cryptocurrencies if congestion is too high.
  • Basic technical knowledge is required: Cryptocurrencies were created and adopted by technical individuals who take pride in speaking their own language. Unfortunately, this requires some fluency and knowledge about their protocols and processes.  Hence, it is important to have some basic technical skills.

Benefits for merchants

Now, what do cryptocurrencies have to offer from the merchants’ point of view? We’ve uncovered four benefits of accepting cryptocurrency during our conversations with luxury shop owners:

  • Expanded geographical footprint: With cryptocurrencies, you can easily accept payments from customers all over the world. There’s no more need to limit customers to a specific region due to payment processor protocols.
  • Expanded customer base: Not only is the geographical footprint established, but many early adopters of bitcoin have migrated from mass-market buyers to luxury buyers.  While we do not know who they are, according to CBS News, there are nearly 100,000 newly minted bitcoin millionaires.   
  • Reduce costs for the banking infrastructure: The costs to set up a wallet to accept BTC or any other cryptocurrency are negligible when compared to bank fees and centralized payment processor fees. 
  • “Holla Back” at Chargebacks: With cryptocurrency, merchants control the refund process and are not subject to the whims of customers that abuse chargeback privileges. 

Concerns for merchants

Of course with benefits, there are also challenges and issues that merchants should consider as well should they decide to accept BTC and other cryptocurrencies.

  • Legal questions: Since cryptocurrencies are not controlled by any central entity, many questions about their legal status emerge. There’s just a small handful of countries where Bitcoin is defined as a legal means of payment. Others either strictly forbid it or provide absolutely no recourse and guidance which leaves cryptocurrencies in the grey area. If you’ve decided to accept BTC or any other cryptocurrency as a method of payment, please consult your tax attorney, your tax accountant and your legal representatives to ensure that you comply with the regulations of your jurisdiction.
  • Volatility: This problem is perhaps the most acute for merchants that can lose their income in a short period of time when BTC price abruptly drops. To avoid such a situation. Consider converting BTC into some stable coin such as USDT or USDC right after you receive the payment or add these coins into the list of available options.
  • Shipping overseas: While cryptocurrencies make it really easy to accept cross border payments, shipping is another matter process. If you decide to expand your geography, think thoroughly beforehand about how you are going to deliver goods to your customers.
  • Technical implementation: While there is a big bunch of tools to automate fiat payment processes, tools are not that robust with cryptocurrencies. You can simply put your BTC address into the list of available payment options, but the lack of automation adds technical complexities. If your website runs on Woocommerce or Shopify, you can make use of their built-in plugins. Alternatively, you may want to apply some tools provided by third-party applications such as Bitpay.

Cryptocurrencies represent a high-tech tool designed to resolve some specific issues of centralized payment systems. As this system itself is still relatively new, one would naturally expect that the challenges listed above would inhibit adoption for many merchants. Boutiques and other luxury merchants should weigh all alternatives prior to implementing cryptocurrencies along with other traditional payment methods.

Top 3 luxury boutiques accepting cryptocurrency

Despite the obstacle, some merchants take the risk. Below, we are going to give a quick rundown of 3 popular online shops in the luxury segment where one can buy jewelry, watches, and other exclusive items for crypto.

Bitdials.eu

Background: Launched in 2016, Bitdials positions itself as a bitcoin-only luxury boutique. Among luxury items offered on the platform, one can find watches, jewelry, gold, spirits, cars, and different stylish items such as leather bags, belts, and lighters. The shop doesn’t sell anything by itself, though. Instead, it acts as an aggregator of dealers helping buyers find the best option. In addition to BTC, customers can pay with ethers and a few other altcoins.

Traffic statistics: Due to its longevity, Bitdials.eu has managed to garner a solid audience. Site traffic has bounced from 10k to almost 100k unique visits per month according to Similarweb.

Customers’ reviews: TrustPilot gives BitDials the best assessment as its average rating makes up 4.9 stars out of 5 based on 190+ reviews. The customers praise the platform for the smooth shipping process, excellent service, and punctuality.

Infographic: Bitdials 4.9/5 star rating. Ten-thousand to One hundred-thousand unique visitors a month. Pros: number 1 it is the oldest and most trusted, and number 2 it has pretty much everything. Cons: you must purchase items through third party vendors. Interesting Finds from Bitdials: 1. A classy black and white wrist watch with a big round face (Blancpain Villeret Watch for 0.467280 bitcoin). 2. An extravagant gold and diamond encrusted watch with a rectangular face (Cartier Tank Anglaise for 4.860000 Bitcoin). 3. A shiny grey supercar with eye-catching orange brakes peeking through the hubcaps (McLaren 720S Spider 4.0 V8 Performance for 15.783552 Bitcoin). A dark grey four door electric car (Tesla Model X for 5.757696 Bitcoin).

 

Bitluxuria.com

Background: Bitluxuria is one more luxury boutique that accepts cryptocurrency as the only means of payment. The range of goods is limited as they focus mainly on jewelry and watches, with a preference for smaller and refined choices. The company is officially registered in New York, New York, USA. Along with Bitcoin, customers can also make payments using Litecoin as well. 

Traffic statistics: 1,000 unique visitors per month according to SEM rush.

Customers’ reviews: Bitluxuria is slightly behind Bitdials as far as ratings are concerned, but their ratings are very robust with an average of 4.5 stars based on 20+ reviews on TrustPilot. The team standing behind the project has a personal approach to each of their customers and provides white-glove service as well.

Infographic: BitLuxuria 4.5/5 Star Rating. One-thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: 1 expertly curated selction, and 2 buy direct with no third party sellers. Cons: the range of goods available is somewhat limited. Interesting Finds from Bit Luxuria: Number 1: A silver necklace with GIANT green gemstones that looks like it might be fit for royalty (BVLGARI Festa Necklace for 0.3727 Bitcoin). Number 2: A watch made of solid with highly intricate gearing visible behind the round face (Patek Philippe Complications for 3.1474 Bitcoin). Number 3: A sporty looking luxury watch that has every square inch covered in small diamonds (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 4.269 Bitcoin). Number 4: A very classy but understated gold watch with a round brown face and brown leather straps that looks like it would be right at home in an old cigar-tasting room (Cartier Rotunde de Cartier for 1.7607 Bitcoin).

 

Delouvois.com

Background: De Louvois has been around since 2016 and has managed to significantly expand the range of the offered products. Their target audience consists of successful tech entrepreneurs, early investors and adopters of Bitcoin, and professional traders. The company itself resides in Versailles, France.

For those inclined to learn more about Delouvois, check out our interview with the founder of De Louvois, Matthiew Michard

In addition to traditional watches and jewelry, the website offers cars, artworks, and even real estate. The primary focus of the company, according to Michard, has always been on the arts. As most of the online shops selling artworks for crypto suffer from bad user experience and design issues, De Louvois strives to “bring some glamour to the industry that really needs it”.

Traffic statistics: 45,000 unique visitors per month according to SEM rush.

De Louvois. Trustworthiness rating not yet available. Forty-five thousand unique visitors per month. Pros: this botique is excellent at "old world luxury," from "old masters" fine art to antiques. Cons: underwhelming contemporary art selection, aside from a few stand-outs. Interesting finds from De Louvois: Number 1: A vibrant painting of a butterfly cut-out made by world-famous artist Damian Hirst in 2009 (selling for 0.32354 Bitcoin). Number 2: A nineteenth century "old master" painting by an unknown French artist of a young shepherd boy holding a white goat (for 0.02480 Bitcoin). Number 3: A Parisian Penthouse in the sixteenth arrondissement with a quaint balcony garden with little red flowers cheerfully overlooking the city (for 58.07081 Bitcoin). Number 4: A highly intricate wooden Louis the fourteenth desk with marquetery made circa 1700 (price listed as "available upon request").

Our take

The relationship managers at Aurae Lifestyle are keenly aware and uniquely equipped to source, procure and shepherd the process of purchasing luxury goods globally.  Additionally, our global relationships in the travel industry position us well to provide real value to our clients. From private aviation to first class commercial service to luxury vacation estates and unique one-of-a-kind destination experiences, the Aurae team is prepared to plan and support you as you enjoy the life you have created. This benefit is enjoyed by members of Aurae Lifestyle at no cost.  Not a member of Aurae Lifestyle?  If you qualify, we definitely encourage you to examine if membership is right for you.  Even if membership is not a fit, we encourage you to reach out to one of our relationship managers if you need assistance in making a high value, cross border luxury purchase.

Charles Dickens knew what he was saying when he coined the term “as good as gold”. Its value was recognised as far back as 4200 BC when gold artifacts were found in the Varna Necropolis in Bulgaria. The graves of the necropolis were built between 4700 and 4200 BC, indicating that the mining of gold could have started at least 7000 years ago.

Fast forward to the 21st century and gold is still held in high regard, roughly 50% of gold consumption is for jewelry, 40% for investments, and 10% in industry. Another important factor supporting gold’s value is that it’s scarce compared to other metals; it’s estimated that there are only around 170 thousand tonnes on the entire planet.

Gold’s role in the economy today

Gold’s use in manufacturing underpins its value but it also plays a role in forex and financial markets. It does not need bank or government guarantees or indeed, any third party to determine its value. Thus, it is treated by investors as a ‘safe-haven’ asset, especially when there is turmoil in the currency markets. It is also stored by central banks to act as a reserve currency in case of calamity.

Gold as a safe-haven

The rise in the value of Gold in times of global economic uncertainty is well documented and remarkably consistent. Its performance during the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception, Gold prices have risen by 28% from January to November 2020; from around $1552.24 to $1910.55 per troy ounce. The uncertainty of the trajectory of the pandemic has sent stock markets and currencies on a roller coaster ride and it appears investors are jumping to the relative safety of gold. It is important to note that there has also been considerable interest in US Treasuries and other precious metals, so the flow towards hedge assets does not stop at gold. The demand for Treasuries has caused prices to spike, which means their yields have fallen to new lows.

These low yields also act as an incentive to move to gold or other higher yielding investments. Bond yields are expected to remain low for some time as central banks need to keep interest rates as low as possible to encourage lending in a currently sluggish economy. In essence, when traditional bond investments offer low returns and the value of the US dollar weakens, investors move their funds to safe havens. The graph shows this direct correlation between the two since 2006.

Debt

Another element of the economic forces driving the gold price is global government debt. As economies try to manage the effect of the coronavirus on their citizen’s income, their national debt will continue to grow as they plough funds into stimulus packages and assistance programmes. Add Brexit, the terrorism threat, global civil unrest and the US elections into the mix and we have a perfect storm for market uncertainty.

Is it gold a good investment?

It is hard to ignore the facts about gold and to acknowledge its role as a safe-haven in turbulent times but there is a caveat, and many individuals get caught out by this. Gold is not a particularly good investment when you compare it to stocks and bonds over the long-term. Gold is often only in the spotlight during times of calamity, and it is not considered to be a long- term investment.  It has however been a decent hedge against inflation due to its ability to protect against currency devaluation.  Inflation is controlled solely by governments, and their ability to print money on demand, could potentially outpace the country’s economic growth. This Printing money often causes the value of fiat currencies to decline, reducing buying power as the price of goods and services increase. Although US inflation has been low over the last 20 years, $1 in the year 2000 would be worth $1.51 in 2020 – a 51% increase. Gold over this same period has increased 609.91% boosting holders purchasing power.

The main reason for gold underperforming as a long-term investment, is that it does not produce returns, it only has intrinsic value and you only realise returns if you sell it for a profit. Some may argue that gold coins are a better investment, but these too can be disappointing in terms of returns, especially if the melt value is significantly lower than the premium you paid for the coin. They are often subject to hype and strong-arm selling tactics and many people have been caught up in scams. Some companies even offer bullion bars for sale, you can choose to store them at home or with a custodial service. Bullion services also have risk in terms of the quality and weight assurance and the cost of insuring them.

So, while gold is enjoying its time in the sun as a hedge against current global chaos, the consensus is that while it can be a major player in protecting your currency from extreme volatility, if you are building a retirement portfolio, there are better options to consider.

* Source: goldprice.org
** Source:macrotrends.net

The National recently featured Aurae Lifestyle in an article detailing the benefits of a luxury lifestyle concierge service. Aside from basic hotel concierge offerings such as restaurant reservations or last-minute tickets, The National delves into the world of personal concierge requests. Some services mentioned include private jet access, on-board catering, and event and travel planning.

See what else The National had to say about Aurae here: The National

An article published by Forbes India went into detail about the lengths that luxury concierge services will go to in order to please their clients. From planning off-the-beaten-path vacations to reserving an entire property, private concierge teams are dedicated not only to granting client wishes but to anticipate their needs and present them with experiences they had never even dreamed of.

Continue Reading at http://www.forbesindia.com/article/best-things….

Luxury Magazine published an article that outlines the benefits of an Aurae Membership. The article details Chris Scanlon’s inspiration in creating the card, details about how the card is manufactured, and the concierge services that members are privy to. Member benefits include travel planning, event services, private aviation, and access to events on the Aurae Social Calendar.

Read more here: https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/the-benefits-and-limitations-of-possessing-a-solid-gold-mastercard-from-aurae-1.173093

Aurae COO, Terrence Thomas recently sat down with Luxuria Lifestlye for an interview after being awarded The Best Luxury Concierge Service of UAE. Aurae Lifestyle was honored to receive the award and will continue to provide our members with the top tier services they have come to expect from us. Read the interview to learn more about how Terrence defines the word luxury and why he has chosen to work in the industry.

Read More here:  http://www.luxurialifestyle.ae/our-congratulations-to-terrence-thomas-coo-of-aurae-lifestyle……

Aurae was pleased to be award the Luxury Concierge Service Award by Luxury Lifestyle Awards. The accolade recognized “initiatives, innovations, and achievements” across a range of industries. The award ceremony was held at the Conrad Dubai Hotel and was a spectacular Great Gatsby themed night. Aurae is honored by this award.

Read more herehttp://luxurylifestyleawards.com/en/news/649.html

A Solid Gold Aurae Mastercard™ was awarded to Farid Yachou of Holland as he won the first ever Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. Other winnings included over $381K, a 2016 Corvette, a Hublot King Power Titanium Watch, a custom poker table, a seat in Tiger’s Poker Night, and a round of golf at Shadow Creek. Congratulations Farid!

Read more: http://www.worldpokertour.com/news/s14-monsterwptt…