- Newegg is expanding its bitcoin payment option from the U.S. into Canada, according to a press release.
- The e-tailer first offered bitcoin as a payment option in the U.S. in 2014. Since then, it said its transactions in the digital currency have been a small but growing part of its purchase transactions.
- Newegg accepts bitcoin payments and also handles refunds and payment exceptions using payment service provider BitPay. By focusing on the development of enterprise-grade merchant tools, BitPay helped the Newegg achieve 99.99% uptime, which it said represents "unrivaled reliability in the industry."
Bitcoin is the largest and best known digital currency, and more companies are allowing online products to be bought with bitcoins. This is especially true with retailers that have large international businesses.
Besides its growing popularity, the blockchain-based cryptocurrencies can have the benefit of lowering the cost of cross-border payments. IBM has been involved in one effort, and the global Chinese retailer JD.com is looking at settling cross-border payments with blockchain technology.
"Newegg was an early e-commerce adopter of bitcoin, and that leap of faith the company took in 2014 put Newegg on the map as a bitcoin-friendly place for tech enthusiasts to shop," Stephen Pair, BitPay CEO and co-founder said in a press release. He added that "[w]e're seeing a lot of traction in Canada."
But there are plenty of problems associated with the currency as well. For one, its price has often been wildly volatile over the years. As of Thursday, bitcoin has lost an incredible 48% of its value in 2018, according to Bloomberg.
Moreover, the number of retail outlets and legitimate businesses accepting it and other cryptocurrencies is still quite limited. The use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in illicit trades and black markets — most famously the Silk Road site, which the FBI shut down in 2013 — has made governments around the world wary of them. The digital blockchains that support cryptocurrencies have recently been found to carry unwanted hitchhikers, including child porn. And fraud in cryptocurrency investment has become so rampant that tech platforms, including Google and Facebook, have banned cryptocurrency-related advertisements.
Also, generating new coins (which is done through esoteric computer calculations) takes up enormous amounts of energy, contributing to carbon emissions.
So far, Asian companies have been at the forefront of cryptocurrency acceptance. Besides JD.com, another global retailer, Japan's Rakuten, has expanded in blockchain cryptocurrency with its own Rakuten Coin, positioned as a "borderless currency" and incorporating the company's loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points. Also, MegaX, a Singapore-based partnership between iFashion Group and MC Payment, announced an online mall that will accept payments only in the form of bitcoin Cash or MGX coins, a type of token created for the mall.
Amazon is taking steps to get involved in cryptocurrency as well and apparently uses the Ethereum open-source blockchain-based platform. However, the online giant does not yet accept any forms of cryptocurrency. Neither does Walmart. On the other hand, Walmart does have a "strategic alliance" with Rakuten, which could lead the companies to share technologies.
Other North American companies that accept bitcoins as payment are Subway, Microsoft, Gyft, KFC Canada, Expedia, eGifter, Etsy and Shopify.com, according to 99bitcoins.