As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Virtual Currency Today, the DCC’s Vice President, Sarah Martin, had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at the Virtual Currency Today Summit on April 29, 2015. Today, we share insights from Judd Bagley, Director of Communications at Overstock.com.
Sarah: Tell me about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Judd: I was in the PR department at Overstock.com when we began accepting Bitcoin as payment. As the first major online retailer to take that step, the media response was huge. As the company spokesman, I had to quickly learn a lot about Bitcoin in order to be semi-conversant in the subject. The more I learned the more fascinated I became. It was that interest that led to my being included in all of Overstock.com’s cryptocurrency efforts.
Sarah: Overstock was at the forefront of driving merchant adoption. But consumer use of digital currencies still lags today. What do you plan to discuss during your panel?
It’s a classic chicken/egg conundrum when it comes to consumer adoption. We’re preparing to do our part to short circuit the cycle by adding additional motivations for customers to use Bitcoin. For example, there will soon be Bitcoin-only sales and discounts for purchases made with Bitcoin.
Sarah: Overstock has voiced enthusiasm in the past for using bitcoin more deeply throughout its supply-chain. What needs to happen for that to become reality?
Judd: Our suppliers need to get set up to accept Bitcoin. Getting that to happen will require a combination of education and incentives, possibly in the form of faster payment or increasing what we pay them by a few basis points. The same also applies to paying our employees in Bitcoin. It’s going to require education and incentives, likely in the form of a small bonus added to their pay when they receive it in Bitcoin.
Sarah: Virtual Currency Today has brought together many of the best minds in the industry. What do you hope to hear from others at the conference?
Judd: In addition to trends in Bitcoin as a currency, I’m looking forward to learning more about what non-currency applications are being developed atop the Blockchain or other decentralized ledgers.
Sarah: As digital currencies evolve, what are you looking forward to seeing develop this year, or in the next 5-10 years?
Judd: I believe the broad adoption of digital currencies will follow broad adoption of decentralized ledgers, including the Blockchain, as a replacement for high friction intermediaries in all manner of transactions. Using the Blockchain for transfer of land titles, for example, will strike the broader public as much less risky than using it for financial transactions. Once the public’s comfort level with decentralized ledgers is sufficient, its use in finance will seem obvious.
In other words, Bitcoin 2.0 will facilitate the adoption of Bitcoin 1.0. I believe that someday, the fact that currency was the first application of the Blockchain will be the answer to a business trivia question.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest immediate challenge facing the industry?
Judd: Moving crypto out of the realm of geeks and into the realm of all our parents.
Sarah: What’s your best advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Judd: Short term, I don’t know. Longer term, we need to develop more non-currency applications for decentralized ledgers such as the Blockchain, and let the public get comfortable with the ease and security of it. Once that’s happened, cryptocurrency will seem an obvious next step. That’s when things will take off.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Judd. Looking forward to a great conference.