In an industry first, Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) will now accept altcoins, in addition to Bitcoin, as payment. Customers will have the option to pay with dozens of cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Ripple, Dash, and Bitcoin Cash. Overstock.com has accepted Bitcoin since 2014, and its CEO, Patrick Byrne, is a long-time advocate for bringing cryptos into the retail space.
To process payments, Overstock.com has partnered with Shapeshift.io, a Swiss cryptocurrency processor. At checkout, customers will have the option to place their orders with a desired altcoin, which Shapeshift will then convert into Bitcoin and transfer to Overstock.com. The refund process will be similar, with customers having the option to receive payment in either Bitcoin or their desired altcoin.
In the Overstock.com press release, Byrne stated:
“Shapeshift has provided an elegant way for users of any digital currency to transact seamlessly and privately across chains, and we’re excited to harness that ability to the benefit of our customers.”
Cryptocurrency advocates have long debated the utility of integrating multiple altcoins into payment systems. Many assert that Bitcoin alone should be the defacto payment method, as it will give consumers a simple, easy-to-understand choice. However, others argue that introducing multiple altcoins will expand the customer base. Also, many altcoins have faster confirmation times than Bitcoin, as well as other advanced features that may make them more suitable for point-of-sale purchases. Shapeshift’s system could simplify the purchase process to the point where concerns over which crypto to use becomes irrelevant.
Although cryptocurrency is now accepted by thousands of businesses worldwide, few major retailers have adopted it. This will surely change if more consumers choose to use crypto for purchases. According to Overstock.com board member Johnathan Johnson, Overstock.com does $5 million annually in Bitcoin sales, which is triple the amount from when the company began accepting it. Johnson has also stated that Overstock.com retains 50% of all Bitcoins it receives.
Consumer interest in altcoins has grown dramatically in 2017. Thus, any business seeking to adopt Bitcoin payments would be wise to consider altcoins as well. Shapeshift claims its platform can process altcoins within seconds, and is available for adoption by other businesses in the e-commerce marketplace.