First major US retailer Overstock.com to accept Bitcoin
Overstock.com sells everything from book to electronics and even cars. The company’s chief executive, Patrick Byrne said customers will be able to use the virtual currency, Bitcoin as a form of payment on Overstock.com.
Overstock will become the first major retailer to accept Bitcoin. “We think there’s going to be a market in Bitcoin, and we want to get in front of it,” said Byrne. “The company has yet to choose a third-party payment processor to manage its Bitcoin payments. We’ll probably be working with the third parties. There are a few different ones that are interested in our business. It makes sense to work with them rather than developing it from scratch,” said Byrne and added that “this will happen in the next two weeks. Nothing will happen immediately after that. Instead, the company will begin taking Bitcoin payments in June or July.”
Byrne, a renowned libertarian, took a poke at the US dollar, “We think the monetary base should not be something that a government can create with a stroke of a pen.” Unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency, not backed by any government authority. It exists purely on the internet and is mined by powerful computers solving complex math algorithm. “In an ideal world we’d go back to gold so you’d have a monetary system based on something that government mandarins can’t expand at the stroke of a pen,” he said. “We’re not going to go back to gold, but Bitcoin shares that virtue. It is mathematically if not physically constrained.”
While Bitcoin is not expandable by goverment with a stroke of a pen, the virtual currency is prone to wild swings and experts say Bitcoin will remain volatile as the technology evolves. Bitcoin has exploded in value lately, rising from under $100 in August to as high as $1200 earlier this month. Following the announcement from the Chinese government recently, it lost more than half of its value from that peak.
Byrne took into account that the volatility is a problem and Overstock will have to “continually convert Bitcoins into dollars” to avoid losing money.
However, Overstock will not be the first company to accept Bitcoin. Richard Branson made an announcement last month that his commercial space travel venture, Virgin Galactic, will allow customers to pay for their flights in Bitcoin. China’s leading search engine, Baidu also accepts Bitcoin for a number of services. Belgian company Mobile Vikings has also begun accepting Bitcoin payments. And earlier this month, a Florida man has just purchased a Tesla Model S car worth $100,000 by paying 91.4 Bitcoin to the Californian car dealer.