THE INVESTIGATION: Do the recent reports showing that 93% of retail cryptocurrency transactions in Australia come from Bitcoin Cash really add up?
Over the past few months, Bitcoin Cash backer and CEO of BitcoinBCH.com Hayden Otto has released a monthly report indicating that BCH makes up the majority of the cryptocurrency issued in retail stores in Australia.
In the latest November report, BCH accounted for $ 52,000 of total retail spending of $ 55,700, or 93%. The numbers also suggest that more than 7 in 10 of the total number of retail stores here use BCH.
Roger Ver has advertised the numbers in his video updates as a measure of Bitcoin Cash’s success in Australia.
Without exception, the reports are met with controversy, claiming that the numbers are cherry-picked and unverifiable, omitting tens of thousands worth of BTC transactions.
A Mickey study found that there can be problems comparing comparable payments and that the data available from all sources is too incomplete and not transparent enough to assign an exact percentage to a cryptocurrency.
What about LivingRoomOfSatoshi?
TravelByBit’s Caleb Yeoh believes that every cryptocurrency issue in Australia should include the LivingRoomOfSatoshi crypto invoice processor (which allows you to pay bpay bills using crypto).
The numbers (including some from overseas) show that BTC accounts for 62.7% of all bills paid, while BCH accounts for 2.1%.
Yeoh estimates that around $ 3-4 million is spent on crypto every week in Australia – dwarfing the tens of thousands on Bitcoin Cash reports.
He adds that it is also impossible to track most of the cryptos that are being spent in retail outlets since “the bulk of it is peer-to-peer,” meaning a customer who deposits directly into a merchant’s wallet.
Payment can only be tracked if the payment is made via a third party such as TravelByBit or via the Bitcoin.com Cash Register App and HULA.
TravelByBit lists 200 merchants on its website that accept payments for BTC, Lightning Network, BNB, and LTC – along with some outlets that use BCH.
The publicly available numbers (Yeoh said they exclude the travel business and higher value transactions) suggest that more than 7 out of 10 crypto retail stores in Australia use Bitcoin or Lightning Network, with BTC accounting for 81% of the total.
For the past week, retail stores (you can see them in real time here), mostly in BTC, totaled nearly $ 9,000 – of which $ 8,200 was a single large payment to a developer.
However, the HULA numbers are private and are only published in report form by Otto.
“It’s almost impossible to validate, nobody can see the data,” said Yeoh.
Brick and mortar retail spend
Proponents of Bitcoin Cash argue that brick and mortar retail spending is the most important aspect of mainstream currency adoption.
Unless people spend crypto in stores, it never becomes a mainstream currency of everyday life.
Otto has been producing monthly reports on retail spending on cryptocurrencies in Australia since September.
He compiles the publicly available data from TravelByBit with the numbers from his own HULA network to determine the percentages.
Otto said he founded HULA, which is operated by his company BitcoinBCH.com, after trying not to get TravelbyBit to offer BCH as a payment option more often.
Rejecting the suggestion that most retail payments are peer-to-peer, he says, “I would do my best to show you a merchant that accepts BTC in a P2P fashion – I could count them on one hand. “
The HULA network only covers about 20 of the 200 or so retailers in Australia that accept BCH. This suggests that not only are the numbers incomplete, but that many retailers are accepting BCH P2P.
However, Otto said, “I’m pretty confident that HULA will make up most of the BCH retail economic activity in this country, even though it only covers 20 of the 200 dealers.”
Otto said the BCH sales data is kept private “for obvious reasons such as merchant privacy and the fact that enemies of BCH would not hesitate to approach merchants who conduct high volumes of BCH transactions”.
The missing BTC
There are claims made over Reddit that Otto’s November numbers exclude $ 85,000 worth of BTC from TravelbyBit’s numbers. He denied this and asked everyone to produce the evidence.
However, he admits that he ruled out tens of thousands worth of BTC transactions to a game developer. In the report, he found that there was no way to tell if it was “retail spending”.
This is a difficult area as the HULA report has many Bitcoin cash payments to professionals such as accountants, lawyers, engineers, electricians, and home builders.
In fact, it was the main driver behind the 267% growth in BCH payments in November.
The law firm accounts for a third of BCH retail spending
Otto said the largest single payment from Bitcoin Cash went to a law firm and was worth nearly a third of the total value of BCH payments in November.
But does a BCH payment to a law firm really fit the definition of “retail spending”? And if so, then why exclude BTC payments to a game developer from its reports?
Otto argued that the law firm took BCH payments right in their office.
“We have storefront businesses that are much more likely to accept cryptocurrency as a payment option than online businesses,” he said.
“These are the ones that are considered retail.”
Otto said the game developer questioning BTC has no physical location and therefore does not accept cryptocurrency in a retail setting.
The definition of what “retail” means or not seems a little unclear. If the game developer had an office to take payments, would that probably make them a “retailer” while doing exactly the same job?
It is currently difficult to judge whether the numbers are being compared for equal payments – and the data available are incomplete and by no means transparent – so the jury is still undecided on this issue.
While it’s great that Otto is pushing so much for the retail adoption of Bitcoin Cash in Australia, it would be better if an independent organization like Blockchain Australia could review and provide this type of data in the future.
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