Crypto-friendly online retailer Overstock.com expects to formally begin selling bitcoin through its website in the first half of 2019, the company has revealed.
Such functionality will be offered through Bitsy, a crypto wallet and portfolio company of Medici Ventures, Overstock’s blockhain-focused subsidiary which currently has investments deployed in 18 separate ventures.
In an interview with Forbes, Patrick Byrne, founder and CEO of Overstock, announced Bitsy’s beta launch and emphasized that the roadmap is to fully integrate the wallet into the Overstock website by early next year.
“We will be offering this through Overstock,” he said. “Expect us to be offering bitcoin by Q1 or Q2 of next year.”
While the announcement comes with crypto markets in a rocky state, Byrne shrugged off such concerns and stressed that Overstock’s commitment to crypto surpasses any short term woes – likening the turbulence to the early days of the internet.
“When you had all these dot-com companies crashing, it wasn’t because something was wrong with the internet technology. Coins are going to come and go, but we’re long-term long on blockchain technology,” he said, adding:
“There’s a parallel universe emerging with crypto, and I see Overstock as the wormhole between the two universes. You’re going to be seeing us bring this to our retail consumer base.”
The Bitsy wallet, which is projected to wrap up its beta test phase toward the end of this year, aims to serve as a user-friendly bridge between the fiat and crypto realms. It incorporates features that will appeal to both crypto purists and novices, such as Overstock’s core customer segment of middle-aged women who may not be tech savvy.
For the die-hards, the wallet will allow the user to hold actual physical possession of the coins, rather than just a contractual claim to a bitcoin held on an exchange or with another third party custodian.
“The whole point of crypto is to have a form of money that no authority could control. This is crypto as crypto is meant to be.”
But that core appeal will be augmented by the emphasis on user experience and ease of use for those individuals who may be nominally interested in crypto but intimidated by some of the complexities and computer jargon.
“We’ve made usability our highest priority,” said Steve Hopkins, Medici’s COO and general counsel. “We’ve spent a lot of time really understanding how people who don’t have a computer science background interact with payment applications.”
For instance, the wallet will integrate biometric security measures such as fingerprint scans and facial recognition to verify identity and will offer a patent-pending key recovery mechanism that allows a user’s private key to be regenerated in extreme circumstances, thus reducing the probability of a user’s holdings being lost forever if his or her phone is destroyed or stolen.
“Bitsy sets a new standard for cryptocurrency wallets. What it’s offering is quite special compared to most wallets in the marketplace.”