Starting in early April, Redditors started to notice that certain Yelp businesses around the country were starting to show “Accepts Bitcoin” on their Yelp pages. Even more fascinating to the Bitcoin community, at the time, was the fact that Yelp seemed to have been the ones to provide this option for restaurants. Yelp is currently in the process of creating a searchable directory of Bitcoin businesses around the world. Currently, businesses that are updating their Yelp page will have a new check box to check under Business Information: Accepts Bitcoin? Do you run a small business that has a Yelp presence? Do you accept Bitcoin? Now Yelp will let you share that to the world, as recently released via their blog.
[dropcap size=small]C[/dropcap]urrently, if you search “bitcoin” in yelp after providing your approximate geographical location, you will be greeted with a list of restaurants that might accept Bitcoin. The Yelp search engine goes through Yelp reviews and pulls out references to Bitcoin that users have added over the last few years. Unfortunately, this means that many of your search hits might be zealous reviewers lamenting the establishment’s refusal to accept Bitcoin. As of now, Yelp has only allowed businesses to state whether or not they “Accept Bitcoin.” Unfortunately, customers do not yet have a way to properly mine this valuable information.
Yelp has not yet responded to my inquiry about the deployment timeline of their “Bitcoin directory.” I look forward to reports of Yelp users being “surprised” at the amount of businesses that accept Bitcoin in their immediate vicinity. Bitcoiners are very exuberant about the feature; however, without an accompanying Search filter, the directory is sorely incomplete. That being said; we should still applaud Yelp for taking this step. Yelp’s blog post about the “Accept Bitcoins” feature also includes this paragraph touting the benefits of Bitcoin:
Why does this matter? For those who haven’t heard the buzz about Bitcoin, it’s a new payment technology that allows consumers and businesses to make fast, secure and low-cost digital payments from any Internet-enabled device. Bitcoin also allows for consumers and businesses to transact without having to store sensitive data like a credit card number. Finally, like cash, Bitcoin’s transactions are one-way, so businesses don’t have to worry about chargebacks.
Airbitz Does It Now
In contrast with Yelp, Airbitz has a worldwide directory of small businesses that functions entirely on the premise of an “Accepts Bitcoin” filter. Airbitz CEO Paul Puey has been hard at work promoting his product to Bitcoiners both online and at Bitcoin events around the world. Airbitz will link to the Yelp pages of the businesses, should they exist, so users can read reviews should they choose to. Currently, Airbitz only has listings in roughly half of the states within America; however, they are taking a slow and comprehensive approach to adding businesses. Nobody will be surprised when in a few months, once Yelp finally lets users filter “Accepts Bitcoin” in their advanced search, Airbitz has a more comprehensive list of businesses than Yelp. Another great resource for locating businesses that accept Bitcoin is Coinmap.org. However, Coinmap suffers from an over-reporting problem. Only a certain fraction of the listed 4,000+ brick and mortar locations that accept Bitcoins are actual small businesses, as opposed to Localbitcoin dealers.
Backlash Against Yelp
Yelp is not without its controversies. Many bottom-up reports have arisen over the years about Yelp’s questionable marketing and advertising practices. Small businesses and mom-and-pop restaurants around the world have complained that Yelp abuses their control of the visibility of both good and bad reviews in a carrot-and-stick manner. Yelp is an incredibly centralized source of information, albeit the largest, of business directory information and reviews. Prudent internet users have long since learned to digest Yelp reviews with a grain of salt. Users might also find that there is an overlap between the types of business that have completely eschewed using Yelp and the types of businesses that accept Bitcoin.