Since Bitcoin’s dramatic rise in 2013, scores of businesses in a variety of industries have begun accepting cryptocurrency as payment for goods or services. Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, a Canadian nudist resort located near Toronto, recently became the first in its field to accept Bitcoin payments, making the announcement in a blog post (note: business website contains NSFW images).
Stéphane Deschênes, owner of Bare Oaks, graciously agreed to answer some questions about his decision to accept Bitcoin and how he anticipates it will factor into his long-term business plan. He also offers some advice to businesses who have considered accepting Bitcoin payments but are a bit anxious about making the change.
CCN: Many of our readers are likely not familiar with the philosophy of naturism. Could you give a brief definition?
SD: The official definition provided by the International Naturist Federation is: Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging respect for oneself, respect for others and for the environment.
The most salient aspect to outsiders is the nudity. But it is not about nudity. Nudity is the tool that leads to body acceptance, so it is an integral part of our naturist philosophy. But it is not the objective.
Some might call us nudists. But we prefer naturist because it is so much more than just taking your clothes off. We see it as a life philosophy with physical, psychological, environmental, social and moral benefits. The term nudism makes it sound like it is just about nudity.
What services does the Bare Oaks Family Nature Park offer to visitors?
SD: I often describe us as a hybrid of a campground with roofed accommodations and a country club. The former is for overnight guests (weekends and vacation) although some maintain a permanent weekend getaway place. But for our day visitors it is more of a country club. Those who live less than an hour away come and only use the facilities for the day. That is about 70% of our volume. But overnighters spend far more money.
We have a lot of the things you would expect to find in those places: beach, pool, restaurant, volleyball, sauna, whirlpool, shop, playground, etc…
What sort of visitors does your park attract?
SD: Every type: every age, every profession. One of the frustrations in trying to market naturism is that there is no demographic or psychographic that I can find that identify those who are most likely to try naturism. There is a slight skew towards higher education and higher income. But that’s probably due to the fact it costs money to get there and to join.
It is a misconception that naturists are just old fat men. We have had no problem attracting young people. But there are certainly old naturist clubs out there who haven’t been successful in keeping up with the times. Those places do have trouble attracting anybody new.
Bare Oaks has recently begun accepting Bitcoin payments. What led you to decide to accept Bitcoin as payment at your resort?
SD: I was reading news stories about it, and it intrigued me. As I did more research, I realized it had advantages for both my customers and my business.
How many customers have made a purchase using Bitcoin? How have customers responded to this decision?
SD: So far two. One in person and one online. But to be fair, the first one, in person, was directly invited to do so by me. I needed a test of our system. But the online sale ($114 for books and magazines) was totally unplanned. It was even more interesting because he is in Australia. It highlights how easily commerce can be done across borders with Bitcoin.
What benefits do Bitcoin payments bring to Bare Oaks and your customers?
SD: For me, it is easy to manage, and the transaction cost is low. It has the convenience of credit cards with the transaction cost of cash.
For my customers, it probably depends on the person. I believe that some will appreciate the relative anonymity of the transaction. Some of our guests believe that they will be judged because they are naturists. I think that’s blown out of proportion. We’re not in the 1950s anymore. But I can’t argue with their feelings.
Others will probably like Bitcoin either because it is novel or because they find it convenient.
Is Bare Oaks using a payment processor to accept Bitcoin payments or do your customers send them to you directly?
SD: We use BIPS.me to manage the transaction. They make it simple to do the price/invoice conversion from CAD into Bitcoin.
Do you think that Bitcoin is a fad, or do you think that it could become a part of your long-term business plan?
SD: I would like it to be a part of my long-term business plan. I would be very happy to accept Bitcoin and be able to keep it as Bitcoin so I can then use it to pay suppliers and employees.
I don’t think it is a fad. While popular with some, it has yet to hit the mainstream. Bitcoin is getting a lot of press and attention from government. But there are still relatively few regular people out there using it. For it to be a fad, it would need to become fashionable in general society.
As long Bitcoin maintains its value (i.e., that you can convert it back into fiat currency) it will continue. There [are] too many people and organizations that find Bitcoin useful (yes, some are criminals) for it to lose its value. I think they will make sure that the currency keeps going. And if it does, then acceptance will continue to grow with everybody.
What advice would you give to businesses who are on the fence about accepting digital currency payments?
SD: Just do it! It doesn’t cost anything to offer it, and you have a lot to gain. We are not in business to tell our customers what to do. We’re in business to make it easy for them to buy our products or services. So if they want to use Bitcoin, then you should accept Bitcoin.