Last week, Overstock announced that it has so far seen over $US1 million in Bitcoin purchases through its site.
Overstock began accepting the digital currency on January 9 through a partnership with Coinbase, the popular Bitcoin exchange.
We spoke to Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne to check up on what it’s been like facilitating business with Bitcoin.
“There was a huge surge [in Bitcoin spending] the first day, with people showing support. It’s since dropped to $US20k to $US30k per day, but it’s gradually increasing from there. It’s going well,” he said.
Bitcoin purchases offer Overstock a number of advantages over credit card purchases. There are no credit card fees, chargebacks, or fraud risks to speak of. When a customer spends his or her Bitcoins with Overstock, Coinbase instantly converts them to U.S. dollars, completely eliminating any problems with Bitcoin’s volatility.
Byrne seemed especially impressed with how Bitcoin can thwart fraud. Using a credit card, a person can “order a television online, wait for it to arrive, then call Visa and tell them there’s a dispute with the charge and not to pay it,” said Byrne. “We do a really good job of preventing fraud, but Bitcoin makes fraud pretty much impossible.” In this sense, it’s a retailer’s dream come true because Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Credit card companies can swoop in any time and get their money back if a customer suspects fraud.
But Byrne is also into the currency for political reasons.
“I get an enormous pain in the arse when I think of our centralized financial system,” he said. “I think our country’s gotten under the thumb of Wall Street oligarchs. They’re enemies of the republic and Bitcoin represents a mass movement to get rid of the knuckleheads. There’s a huge political side to this that I endorse.”