Last Saturday, during the D.C.-hosted “Bitcoin in the Beltway” conference, the CEO of OverStock.com, Patrick Byrne, announced during a keynote that his company, Overstock.com, in light of its booming Bitcoin sales, will be donating three percent of its profits from its Bitcoin sales to advocacy organizations that promote Bitcoin around the world.
Overstock was the first major online retailer to adopt Bitcoin, and, according to Byrne, the response has been overwhelming. When the website launched its Bitcoin support, their estimate was that they would sell five million dollars’ worth of goods for Bitcoin over the following year. Based on the sales to date (more than one million dollars), they’ve had to revise that estimate up to ten million.
The conference was intended to address the issue of Bitcoin regulation, and the interactions of Bitcoin with the government. It hosted speakers such as Andreas Antonopoulos, who delivered an address on the future of cryptocurrency, as well as Elizabeth Ploshay, who represents BitPay, the single largest Bitcoin payment processor. The twin keynotes were delivered by Byrne and Cody Wilson, talking about Overstock.com’s history with Bitcoin, and about the development of open-source Bitcoin laundering tool DarkWallet, respectively.
During his talk, Byrne went into considerable detail about Overstock’s experience with Bitcoin. 4,300 customers have used Bitcoin since the feature was added, more than 60% of them new to Overstock.com. Those customers spent an average of $230 per person, a significant increase from the $150 that is typical of non-Bitcoin users. The company uses CoinBase to process its transactions, but keeps 10% of all its income (more than US$100,000 to date) in Bitcoin, a sign of faith in the long-term viability of the currency, and a way to pay employees in Bitcoin should they so desire. Byrne also announced that he was planning to bring the Bitcoin payment option to international users of Overstock.com by September of this year, potentially expanding the site’s Bitcoin income even further.
Byrne’s presentation ended on a philosophical note, connecting the core ideals of the Bitcoin protocol to the ideas of classical liberalism, and discussing altcoins as a way for the Bitcoin community to experiment with new features that might one day make their way into the Bitcoin mainstream via a hard fork. He finished by predicting — only half-jokingly — that in twenty years, nobody will remember that any currency but Bitcoin exists.