The digital currency bitcoin can now be used to pay for goods on Overstock.com, a Salt Lake City based company.
Bitcoin users can exchange traditional currency, like dollars, for the online currency or “mine” money, by allowing their personal computer to act as a server for the cryptocurrency in exchange for a reward or service fee paid in bitcoins.
Overstock.com’s Judd Bagley said the decision to accept bitcoins was part philosophical and part business savvy. He says the company’s CEO is a firm believer that currency should be based on something tangible, like gold or bitcoin, and not generated by a government.
"Patrick Burn, the CEO of Overstock, saw this as an opportunity to lend support to an idea that he's philosophically in favor of, which is, namely, this currency that is not regulated," Bagley said. "That's not something a government beaurocrat can't just sign his name on a dotted line and it suddenly begins to exist."
Bagley said the company also realized that bitcoin users are very loyal to companies that accept the currency.
"We saw a real opportunity to capture a substantial share of this market, which is not huge by any means, but it's big enough to be noteworthy and it's growing, and realize that the by accepting bitcoin, we would be gaining instantly, many thousands of new customers. This is exactly what has happened," Bagley said.
Bitcoin currency remains volatile, so the company says, for now, they will be immediately converting the digital currency into dollars.
Bagley said he believes it’s inevitable that other large companies will accept the currency.
"The results of this brief experiment have been so overwhelmingly positive," he said. "It seems like the other large retailers, eventually they're going to be forced to do it because bitcoin users simply represent a segment of the market that's too big to be ignored."
As of Monday one bitcoin is worth 877 U.S. dollars.