Bitcoin wins over small business looking to cut credit card fees

The cryptocurrency craze has spread to small businesses like Rancho Fresco Mexican Grill, a restaurant in Modesto, California, that began accepting bitcoin as payment about a year ago.

Bitcoin offers a specific benefit to the business and its bottom line: It spares Rancho Fresco from paying credit card fees that can total $3,000 each month, owner Ismael Covarrubias told FOX40 in Sacramento.

“It definitely helps because if someone pays in bitcoin, I don't have to pay anyone anything of that bitcoin. It goes directly to my business,” he said.

So far, only a few customers take advantage of the payment option each week. Covarrubias said 85% of payments come from credit cards.

Rancho Fresco is just the latest small business to welcome bitcoin payments from customers. For instance, a growing list of restaurants and delis in New York City have begun accepting bitcoin, according to New York Magazine.

Larger companies are also jumping into the mix. Tilman Fertitta, the CEO of restaurant group Landry’s, told Money that his company is exploring the idea of bitcoin payments at eateries such as Rainforest Café and Morton’s The Steakhouse. became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin in 2014. Expedia allows travelers to book hotel rooms using bitcoin, and Microsoft customers can use bitcoin to add money to their accounts when buying games, movies and other digital products.

While more businesses are giving bitcoin a test run, critics have questioned whether the world’s largest cryptocurrency will gain widespread acceptance as a trusted form of payment.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told FOX Business that he isn’t “interested that much in the subject at all.” Instead, blockchain technology could allow virtual trading of common currencies including the U.S. dollar, he said. Meanwhile, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in an interview the regulatory agency is looking at whether initial coin offerings (ICOs) are violating securities laws.