By Hannah Lang
(Reuters) - Almost a quarter of small businesses in nine countries around the world plan to accept digital currencies as a form of payment in 2022, while 13% of consumers in those countries expect retail stores to begin offering crypto payments this year and beyond, according to a survey by Visa Inc.
The survey of 2,250 small business owners across nine countries including the United States, Brazil, Singapore and Canada suggests cryptocurrencies may be starting to go mainstream as a means of payment.
Visa also surveyed 1,000 adults in the United States, along with 500 adults from each of the nine countries.
“I think more people are feeling more confident with crypto,” said Jeni Mundy, Visa’s global head of merchant sales and acquiring, in an interview.
Despite their rising popularity among retail and professional investors, cryptocurrencies are not widely used to pay for goods and services, in part because of their frequent fluctuations in value.
On Monday, Bitcoin fell more than 5%, tumbling under the $40,000 level for the first time since September.
Small businesses outside North America are more open to accepting digital currencies, including Bitcoin, as forms of payment.
Visa found that more than 30% of small business merchants in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore and Brazil plan to offer customers the option to pay using crypto in the coming months. Digital currencies have taken off in each of those jurisdictions, despite varying regulations.
In contrast, 19% of small businesses in the United States and just 8% in Canada expect to offer crypto as a payment option in 2022.
Almost three-quarters of businesses surveyed worldwide reported that accepting new forms of payments is “fundamental” to their business growth. For many smaller companies that are moving into new forms of digital payments, adopting crypto may be a natural evolution, said Mundy.
They are asking "what other forms of payment can we take? And what other forms should we be considering?” she said.
The other countries in the survey include Germany, Ireland and Russia.
(Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)