January 10, 2014, 4:22 PM

Overstock.com: Now accepting bitcoin

The e-retailer is the first in the United States to accept the digital currency as a form of payment, its CEO says. In the first 24 hours of offering it, Overstock processed 840 bitcoin-based transactions, accounting for $130,000 in revenue.

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Overstock.com Inc. shoppers can now pay for their purchases with bitcoin, the web-only mass merchant announced yesterday. The move makes Overstock the first U.S. e-retailer to offer the virtual currency as a payment option, CEO Patrick Byrne says.

“Digital currency will be an important part of the future and Overstock is excited to be the first major online shopping retailer to accept it,” says Overstock.com chairman and CEO Patrick M. Byrne. “As one who believes in limited government, this attracts me because it is a form of money that no government mandarin can will into existence.”

Overstock already accepts payments via eBay Inc.’s PayPal and Bill Me Later, Google Wallet and Amazon Checkout, according to the Top 500 Guide, along with major credit and debit cards. For now, bitcoin is available as a payment option to U.S. customers only, though the retailer plans to accept it internationally in the future, a spokesman says.

Overstock has enlisted Coinbase.com, a bitcoin wallet and payments company based in San Francisco, to process its bitcoin payments and handle the currency’s conversion into U.S. dollars. Coinbase says it charges retailers 1% to make those conversions.

“Bitcoin is well suited for online transactions,” Byrne says. “It has no transaction fees and works well for international customers.”

Overstock.com expects about 2% of its web sales to transact through bitcoin initially, it says. In the first 24 hours of accepting the digital currency, shoppers placed 840 orders using it, accounting for $130,000 in revenue, the retailer says. 

Bitcoin is a digital currency that individuals and businesses can exchange online. The dollar value of a Bitcoin can vary from day to day. The creators of the Bitcoin system have not identified themselves publicly, but they have published papers explaining how the currency can be created and asserting that the total number of Bitcoins in circulation can never exceed 21 million.

Overstock.com is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, with 2012 sales of $1.099 billion, up 4.3% from the previous year.

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