Overstock Plans Special Lures to Incent Bitcoin Use

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Overstock.com plans to offer faster payouts to vendors and larger bonuses to employees to encourage bitcoin payments.

During Porcfest, a libertarian-themed festival in New Hampshire, Patrick Byrne, Overstock CEO, told radio program Free Talk Live, these special deals will include vendors that accept bitcoin getting paid five days earlier. 

Most big corporations "don't leak anything like this, but I like to because we get feedback, feedback from potential partners and suppliers contacting us," says Byrne in an interview with PaymentsSource.

Between September and October Overstock will be planning how to facilitate this vendor pay-out process for a roll out in January, Byrne says. "Cash flow is important, especially for our small suppliers, so this would be attractive to them," he says.

Not only is Byrne looking to incentivize vendors, but also employees. Byrne says he might only pay bonuses if employees receive them in bitcoin or give employees an extra 2% bonus if they take it in bitcoin.

Of Overstock's 1,500 employees, about 50 to 100 Overstock employees have set up Bitcoin wallets, but none of them are getting paid in bitcoin, says Byrne.

Judd Bagley, director of communications at Overstock, set up a Bitcoin wallet and bought several dollars worth of bitcoin in February.

"I'm looking forward to getting my paycheck in bitcoin," Bagley says. "I pride myself on being an early adopter of technology…and knowing that [Bitcoin] is an inevitability that will be strongly encouraged that employees accept it I decided to get in front of that."

He says he'll likely receive all of his paycheck in bitcoin, exchanging the majority for U.S. dollars so he can pay his bills and holding some for his savings since he's confident in Bitcoin's long term direction. Bagley says he will pay his Direct TV bill and purchase items from TigerDirect and Overstock with bitcoin.

The company will also begin giving discounts to customers that pay with bitcoin before the end of the year, Bagley says.

Byrne has been a vocal proponent of Bitcoin, with his company being one of the first large mainstream retailers to accept bitcoin in December. Overstock has done more than $2 million in bitcoin transactions since it began accepting the digital currency, which equates to about 10,000 transactions, Byrne says.

Overstock is currently using Coinbase to accept bitcoin payments, but the company is "in conversations with BitPay and other vendors who want to specialize in supplier payments and employee payments…and handle all the tax issues," Byrne says. Overstock has been in talks with several niche merchant services providers, including a company from Seattle and one from San Francisco, he says.

Bitcoin is also appealing to Byrne for philosophical reasons. "No matter what happens with the dollar…those in Bitcoin have a robust parallel infrastructure," he says. "To limit the government…you must take away their power to create money."

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