Seeking Alpha

Overstock starts accepting Bitcoin

  • In a move that's apparently motivated by a mixture of politics and business, Overstock (OSTK -1.6%) has become the first major online retailer to start accepting bitcoin (BITCN) for payment.
  • Chairman/CEO Patrick Byrne is a firm believer in the cryptocurrency's long-term potential to diminish the power of governments and major banks - "It helps us fight the machine" - but also insists Overstock's move will eventually benefit the company's bottom line. "Mighty oaks from tiny acorns are sprung, and all that."
  • Two challenges: 1) The total value of all bitcoins is still only around $11B. 2) The currency's immense volatility provides exchange rate risk. However, Overstock's bitcoin payment service provider (Coinbase) will hedge against, and be responsible for, the latter.
  • Meanwhile, Zynga might soon allow the use of virtual currency to buy virtual cows. The social game developer is testing the use of bitcoin with a handful of titles, including FarmVille 2 and CastleVille.
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