Overstock was the first in a train of mega retailers to accept bitcoin payments from domestic, or U.S., customers. Now, the company will be the largest online e-commerce site to cater to international customers. The unveiling is slated for September 1.
Larger retailers like Dell, Dish, and Newegg have only, until now, planned to accept payments from the U.S. market in their respective experiments with the digital money. But international customers want in on the action.
Lower processing fees waved in by cryptocurrencies translate to larger earnings for the company. The international-scope and the wider connectedness of bitcoin transactions is a major appealing aspect of cryptocurrencies. Companies don't have to deal with currency exchange, making international payments easier.
The bitcoin price took a tumble this week, and the price is generally prone to swings. But Overstock is not affected. It converts the bitcoin to dollars as they are used on the website by using Coinbase as its merchant payment processor. It doesn't sound like a bad deal.
So far, bitcoin sales add up to about $300,000 a month for Overstock. Put another way, bitcoin transactions comprise a measly quarter of a percent of the company's total sales. Byrne said Bitcoin has helped the online retailer. In a recent Reuters piece, he forecasted $6 million to $8 million total bitcoin sales by the end of the year--and there were still other crazily optimistic projections. He reported that bitcoin added four cents to the value of each share this year. Perhaps these large numbers were based on the projected expansion of the customer base.
The retailer sells everything from lipstick to printers to a global customer base. The Utah-based company serves over 100 countries and sells internationally under the name and website O.co. Overstock supports "fair trade." Through Worldstock, it offers international artisans a chance to sell their delicate handcrafted pieces. It returns 60-70% of its proceeds to the artisans. It wants to expand its international operations further.
On the other hand, the company's international shipping fees are high, which might detract from the attraction of global bitcoin sales.
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne's seems to think the company's a step ahead of the pack as the first large online retailer to move towards building some sort of an international market with the globally-minded Bitcoin at its core. Paired with his stock exchange, he has some big plans for the new payment network.
Byrne has a stockpile of bitcoins. He announced earlier in the summer that 3% of Overstock's profits will be used to spur Bitcoin adoption in other companies. Mr. Byrne also recently unveiled a plan to create a new stock modeled after Bitcoin by leveraging the financial platform Counterparty. This long-term project could have obvious international implications.