What do people buy for bitcoin?

Monday 25 May 2015

Bitcoin can be considered the first true global currency of the internet. It enables fast, secure online commerce, opening a customer base for merchants anywhere and everywhere in the world. At the same time, bitcoin still remains in the hands of a tech-literate minority. Without a ‘killer app’ to buy, store and spend bitcoins easily, it is only used by those with the confidence to send money to unregulated exchanges and keep their coins in their own wallets. These people can hardly be considered representative of the general population. Or can they?

Read also: Beer for bitcoins: Inside a bitcoin pub

There is a huge range of products and services you can buy for bitcoin. Of course, bitcoin stores cater to the technorati; mining rigs are often priced in bitcoin, and it’s possible to pick up all kinds of computer equipment for the virtual currency. At the other end of the scale, local shops are picking up on the possibilities - pubs, butchers, coffee shops and more are getting set up to accept bitcoin. Fair enough; geeks drink beer too. Some things are universally popular, after all. Then, of course, there are the ‘specialist’ markets available on the dark web, where bitcoin is used for its supposed anonymity rather than because buyers are particularly technically competent.

Inside the average bitcoiner's living room

Inside the average bitcoiner's living room

Back at the end of 2013, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne announced that his company would be accepting bitcoin - one of the first major retailers to do so. Since then the company has seen a steady trickle of bitcoin payments; it's nothing stellar in terms of overall proportions of sales, but regular.

A recent statement from Overstock reveals the most popular items bought for bitcoin - and there are some surprises there. The top ten items are:

  1. Sheets
  2. Donations to non-profits
  3. Headphones
  4. Cases and holders
  5. Area rugs
  6. Cables and tools
  7. Mattresses
  8. Coffee tables
  9. A/V cables
  10. Sunglasses

Perhaps this isn’t entirely surprising, given that 60 percent of Overstock’s customers are women. All the same, computer equipment and gadgetry is decidedly underrepresented here. The conclusion is that, faced with a consumer’s paradise of goods at low prices, those which the technical nous to pay in bitcoins choose to buy… sheets. As Judd Bagley, Overstock’s director of communications, commented: ‘The only thing that makes that list interesting is the fact that it’s so unremarkable. I guess bitcoiners are regular people.’

What do you buy for bitcoin, and why? And do you know how an ‘area rug’ differs from a normal rug? Leave a comment and let us know.

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