CNP Expo: Is Bitcoin Viable as a Payment Method?
May 20, 2015
Bitcoin emerged 18 months ago as a digital currency that could be used on the Internet but blazed to widespread popularity as an investment when its value skyrocketed. Even after a massive theft, which resulted in the closure of one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges, five million users still hold bitcoin.
While consumer adoption remains low, there have been some high-profile announcements of retailers that have been first-movers in accepting digital currencies. Overstock.com was the first major U.S. retailer to accept Bitcoin online as a payment method and has found out some interesting facts about the people who are using it to pay for things.
According to Judd Bagley, director of communications and cryptocurrency initiatives, Overstock.com’s average Bitcoin user is a male 18 to 34 years old and bedsheets are the most popular product bought with Bitcoin on the site. Bagley elaborated on the trailblazing decision to being accepting the digital currency.
“Our CEO is a fairly strong libertarian, and Bitcoin was fairly attractive in libertarian circles,” Bagley said. “Initially, it was philosophical.”
Mark DeCausmeaker, director of multi-channel sales for Reeds Jewelers, said the company’s young leadership wanted to get involved with Bitcoin.
“As a company, we believe in meeting customers where they are,” he added. “Launching Bitcoin was the biggest social media day ever for us. We were written up in 150 different periodicals. The cost of transaction is low. It was one of the easiest projects we’d ever done.”
Microsoft accepts Bitcoin for limited items and has no plans to drop the currency.
“Our customers were asking for it,” said Sam Anson, senior business operations project manager at Microsoft. “We saw it as a way to extend methods of payment. It does work and it greatly exceeded expectations.”
However, the currency is volatile and changes value often, but it has kept the interest of a select group of admirers.
“The big companies are all looking at this,” said moderator Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.
John McDonnell, co-founder and CEO of Bitnet, which deals in Bitcoin, said the currency bears little risk. “It’s cash,” he said. “When the volatility deceases it will act like a currency. It eliminates a lot of fraud.”