Online mall Square Market latest to accept bitcoin

Sellers will still be credited with U.S. dollars to reduce exposure

Next time you want to buy a bamboo iPhone case or a vintage Superman comic at online mall Square Market, you can pay with bitcoin.

Mobile point-of-sale player Square is accepting the digital currency for retailers hawking goods on Square Market, which was launched last June as a potential rival to Amazon.com, eBay and Etsy.

"For sellers, the experience won't feel any different," Square Market lead Ajit Varma wrote in a blog post.

"Whether selling services or goods, sellers don't have to change a thing, except potentially expecting new trailblazing customers and more sales."

When shoppers choose to buy things with bitcoin, a new Bitcoin address is generated and attached to the order. Buyers can use either mobile or hosted Bitcoin wallets.

Sellers, however, don't have to worry about receiving payment in bitcoin since they will be credited with the U.S. dollars quoted in the sale, and not with the cryptocurrency.

That way, sellers won't be exposed to risk from the volatility in the price of bitcoin, which recently dropped below US$500 amid speculation that China may prohibit banks working with Bitcoin exchanges.

Square is known for its magnetic-stripe reader that lets sellers take credit-card payments by smartphone, but has branched out to cover other payment areas. Last fall it launched Square Cash, which lets users send money via email. A recently added feature helps users collect payments from debtors.

Square is the latest e-commerce company to show interest in Bitcoin. Last week, San Francisco-based mobile payments startup Stripe announced it is experimenting with Bitcoin support, adding the digital currency as a payment option for online backup services firm Tarsnap.

The move followed major online discount retailer Overstock.com's decision to accept Bitcoin in early January.

Overstock, which had revenues of $1.3 billion in 2013, said on March 4 that it was surprised to have already topped $1 million in Bitcoin sales. It logged more than 4,300 Bitcoin customers and said it believes nearly 60 percent were new to Overstock.

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Tim Hornyak

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