Bitcoin retail revolution still long way off, says Eversheds’ Fiona Ghosh

Fiona Ghosh, partner and payment services expert at Eversheds, has commented following news that US retailer Overstock plans to accept online currency Bitcoin as payment.

She said: ‘While it is unsurprising that Bitcoin is gaining in popularity, both in the online and offline world, I would still expect that the majority of traditional retailers, i.e. those with a bricks-and-mortar presence, will continue to stay clear of experimental or virtual currencies for some considerable time.’

According to Ghosh, this is because virtual currencies continue to be unrecognised as valid legal tender. ‘Given the ever-growing tight margins and pressures facing the retail world, I very much doubt that the majority of retailers would wish to add volatile and experimental “money” into their risk profiles in any major format.’

She added: ’It is also interesting to note that Patrick Byrne does not possess Bitcoins and apparently holds gold, one of the most ancient forms of legal tender and the “safe harbour” of value. This in itself speaks volumes.

‘This is not to say that Bitcoin will not continue to capture the public’s imagination. It is more a point that we should not put overemphasis on today’s news as the start of a major revolution in retail.’

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