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Online retailer plans to accept Bitcoin payments next year

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Bitcoin suitcase
Bitcoin suitcase

You'll soon be able to go to one online retailer to buy everything from a toaster to jewelry and furniture using bitcoins. CEO Patrick Byrne tells both the Financial Times and The Los Angeles Times that the company plans to accept Bitcoin in the second half of next year — and possibly within the next four months. The retailer does over $1 billion of revenue primarily reselling closeout merchandise it acquires from other stores, and it would be the largest retailer to accept the virtual currency. Others like Reddit, OkCupid, Ouya, Virgin Galactic, and the University of Nicosia in Cyprus recently opened up to Bitcoin payments.

Byrne explained the decision to The Los Angeles Times, saying "I think we'll pick up ... the market share of people who'd prefer to pay in Bitcoin, with an honest currency." However, he added that the decision is "also philosophical, part and parcel with my belief in a limited government — that if you want limited government you can't give it power to expand the monetary base." Byrne is a self-identified libertarian, and he believes in the benefits of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, which isn't attached to any government and has a limited supply.

But Bitcoin has some major obstacles to pass before becoming a suitable replacement for currencies like the US Dollar. Its infamous volatility (BTC prices zigzagged between roughly $500 and $1200 this month alone) means those who hold it are afraid to spend it, and companies are rightly reluctant to give up merchandise for a currency that could lose half its value in a day. In this sense, isn't fully embracing Bitcoin. Byrne says the company would convert Bitcoin payments to USD daily. Nevertheless, more avenues that allow Bitcoin to be used for exchange rather than speculation could help stabilize the virtual currency.