Online apparel retailer Cory Vines positions itself as an alternative to much larger chains, so deciding to accept Bitcoin was a logical step. It also helps that its customers want to pay with the digital currency.
"We positioned ourselves as a technology-enabled brand, and we want to stay ahead of the curve," says Daniel Lieberman, founder of Montreal-based Cory Vines, which does about 70% of its business in the U.S. and 30% in Canada. "We had some customers ask us about Bitcoin, so it's an opportunity to be active in giving people a new way to pay."
Cory Vines was founded in April 2013 as an e-commerce brand that sells what it called "minimalist low-cost" activewear. Its catalog consists mostly of t-shirts, tanks, leggings, workout shorts and post-workout clothing for men and women. Its clothing generally sells for $20 to $50.
That product and market demographic mix fit well with Bitcoin, Lieberman says.
"Most of our customers are younger people, Gen Y consumers or young parents that are looking for an alternative to some of the higher end products that are on the market," Lieberman says.
Cory Vines uses Stripe to process online payments made with conventional payment methods, and uses Bitcredits to accept Bitcoin payments, Lieberman says. Bitcredits manages the risks associated with Bitcoin, such as security and market volatility.
"There's no risk at all, Bitcredits does whatever they have to do the hedge the risk of Bitcoin," Lieberman says. While Stripe can handle Bitcoin payments, Cory Vines chose to accept Bitcoin before Stripe began supporting the digital currency in March.
In the past, Bitcoin's volatile price has kept most retailers away from it. Today, recognizable brands such as Overstock, the Sacramento Kings, TigerDirect and The Chicago Sun-Times accept Bitcoin. Any Square merchant can also accept Bitcoin for purchases made online.
As acceptance of Bitcoin expands, it's possible other currency types or models may win favor over Bitcoin by retailers, says Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst at Celent. Other digital currencies include ripple, Litecoin and Dogecoin.
Digital currencies "definitely have a future, but they'll continue to evolve," Lodge says. "Bitcoin isn't quite sure what is. Or rather, being so versatile, it's neither fish nor fowl. Is it a currency? An investment? A trading tool?"
Other virtual currency plays may be more stable, Lodge says. Ripple Labs, the company behind ripple, offers technology that can process payments in a number of different currencies, Lodge says.
"There are a number of Bitcoin-related stories like [Cory Vines]. There is a pub in the U.K. where you can pay in Bitcoins. But I think this is a staging point to something else, and as such I dont' see announcements like [Cory Vines] going mass market," Lodge says.