Google, Amazon, and Facebook are some of the leviathans of internet commerce. They have billions in funding, scores of lawyers, armies of programmers, logistics and support staff. Wielding huge influence, power and reach as a result. The effect of one of these accepting bitcoin as a form of payment would overnight catapult it onto the world stage as a major currency accepted almost everywhere.
We are not however going to see the adoption by any of the big powers until it’s already widely used by a significant percentage of smaller online retailers. The take-up by one of the giants will only come as a result of bitcoin’s success, not its cause or ideology. So it is small merchants we must win over first in many small battles before we can hope to win a large one.
The incentives to accept bitcoin as a method of payment, especially for smaller operators, are obvious:
- No chargebacks
- No need for a merchant account
- No paperwork
- Almost non-existent fees
If bitcoin’s attractions are obvious, its shortfallings are painfully so:
- High technical barrier
- Danger of stolen coins if compromised
Few mom n pop eVendors have the needed software development skills to integrate bitcoin with their store, and even fewer have the knowhow to secure those stores from bitcoin breakins.
Onto the scene steps osCommerce, and the man who is bringing it into the world of bitcoin. osCommerce, an online store managment system, is used by well over 14,000 live websites. Among its more well-known users are the Madriva Linux Store and the Mozilla Store, the catagories of stores cover Arts and Antiques to Travel and Tours. Just the kinds of small, mom n pop operations that can get a real competitive advantage from the benefits bitcoin has to offer.
David Sterry, California based computer consultant, developer, and free software advocate began working to make bitcoin an easy payment option for osCommerce users. He started with the already existing bitcoin module and went from there. What he’s added has made this option cheap, easy, and secure.
It includes all the software needed to reliably run bitcoin, the only requirement being that it’s not run on shared hosting (cheap VPS however is fine). Features include:
- Allows bitcoin(d/s) to be on a different machine than osCommerce
- Unique payment address for each order
- Forwards bitcoin to a safe address when threshold reached
- Automatically calculates the USD exchange rate
This is a small step that will have a growing impact on the acceptance of bitcoin for online commerce. The result of David’s efforts are that it’s as easy to get up and running with bitcoin as with osCommerce itself, and it reduces the amounts that can be stolen to no more than pocket change.