Announced on August 8, 2017, Overstock.com Inc. has integrated with instant asset exchange ShapeShift, allowing customers to select Ether as a payment method when shopping from a variety of nearly 4 million assorted products.
In addition to Ether, Overstock said it will also support payments from other major cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Litecoin, Dash, and Monero. Adopting these currencies, which have proven to be popular trading vehicles on crypto-exchanges, is another bold move by the company that boasts being the first major retailer to accept bitcoin. In addition, Overstock.com has a history of innovating with blockchain technology and was the first publically traded organization to distribute 126,000 shares of stock through a blockchain-based internet transaction, as reported by ETHNews.
Patrick M. Byrne, CEO and founder of Overstock, expressed the company’s commitment to giving consumers a choice. “Overstock is pro-freedom, including the freedom of individuals to communicate information about value and scarcity without relying on a medium created through the fiat of unaccountable government mandarins. For that reason, we have been an early proponent and adopter of cryptocurrencies.”
Shoppers who visit the site will be able to browse and pick their wares. When checking out, the payment option for cryptocurrencies appears adjacent to the credit/debit card option. Overstock uses ShapeShift to convert all tendered payments to bitcoin. Refunds are also processed in bitcoin, but a shopper can use ShapeShift to convert their refunds to any desired cryptocurrency.
ETHNews asked a spokesperson from Overstock to clarify the refund process:
“For returns, we will process like any other order, using USD for the base amount of the refund and then convert that to bitcoin, based on the exchange rates at the time of the refund. It’s the same process we use for purchases – the USD cost of a product is converted to bitcoin using the exchange rate at the time of purchase – just in reverse. So while the bitcoin amount may differ from purchase to return, it will represent the accurate USD value at the time of each transaction.”
It has been reported that Overstock will hold 50 percent of the bitcoin payments it receives. The decision to do so was communicated by Byrne through an earnings call made to investors, during which Byrne revealed that, in addition to saving half of all bitcoin revenue, Overstock may branch into other cryptocurrencies to create a more diversified a portfolio of holdings.
CEO of ShapeShift Erik Voorhees said that Overstock’s long history with blockchain technology demonstrates a commitment to innovation. “The ShapeShift team could not be more excited for this partnership,” he said, “and are pleased our technology will be helping the next generation of Overstock customers.”
Byrne commented on the partnership, stating, “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.”
A loss that Overstock incurred during the second quarter of 2017, relative to the Medici blockchain endeavor it has pursued, should come as no surprise to investors; the company’s first quarter report had taken the expected loss into account. At time of press, the company is trading at 17.20 on the Nasdaq exchange.
Now, Overstock may be poised to reap the benefits of early blockchain technology adoption as a result of the calculated risk.
Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine. He is a full time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether.