Overstock Teams With Shapeshift To Accept 40+ Alt-Coins
Bitcoin is the biggest and most famous digital currency, but it’s hardly the only one: There are hundreds of other so-called “alt coins” and now, in a significant development, the owners of these coins will be able to spend them at a major retailer.
On Tuesday, Overstock—a popular online store that sells everything from furniture to bedding—announced it will begin accepting payment via Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and every other major digital currency as payment from customers.
Overstock and many other companies—from Virgin Atlantic to small coffee shops—have accepted bitcoin for years, but this is the first time a well-known retailer has opened the door to other digital currencies.
The upshot is that customers who check out after shopping at Overstock’s website will have all sorts of options beyond credit or debit card or bitcoin.
Here’s a screenshot of the site’s payment page:
In an interview with Fortune, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne said he expected his company will be accepting up to 40 or 45 digital currencies at any given time.
Byrne is a trained economist and a longtime advocate for bitcoin, which he regards as a global currency beyond the control of central banks and governments. He sees the new payment options as a victory for ordinary people.
“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,” he said in a statement.
To process all the new currencies, Overstock will rely on a company called ShapeShift for the backend operations. The Switzerland-based company, whose service lets users instantly convert one type of digital currency to another, built an API that allows Overstock to accept any major digital currency and get paid in bitcoin on the backend.
According to CEO Erik Voorhees, other big companies can easily install ShapeShift’s payment API, meaning they could soon follow Overstock’s example and accept payments in other digital currencies too.