Judd Bagley, director of communications at Overstock.com, didn’t take long to become a bitcoin enthusiast after the online retailer became one of the first major U.S. companies to let customers pay with bitcoin. Speaking to Sarah Martin, vice president of Digital Currency Council, Bagley discussed his experience as a spokesman for one of the leading retailers to support bitcoin. He will be speaking as one of the thought leaders at the Virtual Currency Today Summit on April 29. The event will be held at the Hilton Boston Back Bay in Boston, Mass.
Bagley noted during the interview that the decision to accept bitcoin was a PR bonanza for Overstock.com. “As the first major online retailer to take that step, the media response was huge,” he said. “The more I learned, the more fascinated I became. It was that interest that led to my being included in all of Overstock.com’s cryptocurrency efforts.”
Challenge: consumer acceptance
Bagley acknowledged the challenge bitcoin faces with consumer adoption. But there are things that retailers can do to foster this acceptance. “We’re preparing to do our part to short circuit the cycle by adding additional motivations for customers to use Bitcoin,” he noted.“For example, there will soon be bitcoin-only sales and discounts for purchases made with bitcoin.”
Bagley also touched on an area that often goes unnoticed among many bitcoin enthusiasts – the business benefits a company can realize using bitcoin in its supply chain and for other business purposes. He said the company will have to educate suppliers to accept bitcoin.
“Getting that to happen will require a combination of education and incentives, possibly in the form of faster payment or increasing what we pay them by a few basis points. The same also applies to paying our employees in bitcoin. It’s going to require education and incentives, likely in the form of a small bonus added to their pay when they receive it in bitcoin.”
As for the upcoming Virtual Currency Today Summit, Bagley is hoping to learn more about what non-currency applications are being developed atop the Blockchain or other decentralized ledgers.
Decentralized ledgers to lead currency adoption
Looking to the next several years, Bagley thinks the adoption of digital currencies will follow adoption of decentralized ledgers. He sees ledgers like the Blockchain serving as a replacement for “high friction intermediaries” in all transactions. “Using the Blockchain for transfer of land titles, for example, will strike the broader public as much less risky than using it for financial transactions. Once the public’s comfort level with decentralized ledgers is sufficient, its use in finance will seem obvious.”
The biggest challenge for digital currency, he noted, is to move it “out of the realm of geeks and into the realm of all our parents.”
“Longer term, we need to develop more non-currency applications for decentralized ledgers such as the Blockchain, and let the public get comfortable with the ease and security of it. Once that’s happened, cryptocurrency will seem an obvious next step. That’s when things will take off.”
Summit to explore key factors
The Virtual Currency Today Summit is organized by Networld Media Group. It will look at the factors that will shape the adoption and growth of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Expert panelists will offer insights on how market stakeholders can push through barriers to embrace digital currency as the next generation of payments and transaction solutions.