NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) decision to accept bitcoins for certain purchases from its online store may be a feather in the cap for the digital currency, but while positive the move does not signal a general acceptance of this new-fangled money.
In a blog post Microsoft said bitcoins will be accepted through the BitPay currency exchange for purchases of Windows Store, or in stores that house Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video. With the decision Microsoft joins Dell, Overstock.com (OSTK - Get Report) , DISH Network (DISH - Get Report) and Expedia (EXPE - Get Report) as bitcoin partners, but despite the well-known names on this list bitcoin's future is still cloudy.
"I would say that Microsoft's acceptance of bitcoin for certain purchases affords the currency greater credibility and likely improves confidence regarding the long-term viability of the platform, though I believe bitcoin as a mainstream currency remains a fairly distant possibility," said Josh Olson, technology analyst at Edward Jones.
Dell CIO Paul J. Walsh said, “We're pleased by the response to our current Bitcoin pilot on Dell.com for consumer and small business shoppers in the U.S. While we were initially predicting we’d see primarily consumer demand, we are seeing purchases across the full product and customer spectrum -- from software and peripherals to our Latitude business line of PCs and even our largest transaction to date -- north of $50,000 for a highly configured PowerEdge server system. This form of payment is clearly resonating with consumer, small and medium businesses.”
Overstock.com was a bit more upbeat in its appraisal. The online retailer began accepting bitcoin payment domestically in January and internationally in September. Judd Bagley, director of communications at Overstock.com gave his company's bitcoin experience to date a glass half-full appraisal.
"As the year ends, the total revenue figures have been less than we'd hoped, but we're still very happy. Specifically, we're going to hit the $3-million mark for the year, but we'd hoped for two times that amount," said Bagley.
Bagley noted the reason the company is falling short of its goal is a lack of international usage. Overstock.com expected to do $3 million in overseas sales, but that has not happened.
Expedia, which began accepting bitcoin for hotel purchases in June, is also upbeat.
"We don't release sales figures but can say that bitcoin currently makes up less than 1% of our total sales. Customer demand for bitcoin on the site has been aligned, if not slightly higher, than our initial expectations," said Tarran Vaillancourt, tech spokesman for Expedia.
Overstock.com is not going to give up on bitcoin -- its marketing roadmap for 2015 includes deals specifically targeted at bitcoin owners.
Olson put a bit of a damper on this level of enthusiasm by pointing out that the currency still faces some high hurdles. "I think the largest impediment to bitcoin's widespread use is government skepticism and the likely significant regulatory burdens that will ultimately be imposed," he said.
The fact that bitcoin is even being used by major corporations is an impressive turnaround for the currency.
Earlier this year bitcoin endured what can only kindly be called a tumultuous year. Mt. Gox, the primary currency exchange for bitcoin, was robbed of 740,000 bitcoins valued at $400 million by a hacker, and the exchange subsequently filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. On April 16, it was taken over by the Japanese government when it refused Mt. Gox's request for bankruptcy protection in that country. The currency was simultaneously involved in another bizarre situation when Newsweek posted an article claiming engineer Dorian S. Nakamoto was the person who created the currency. A claim he immediately and rigorously denied.
Bitcoin has since made progress, not only being accepted by retailers, but the Internal Revenue Service has recognized it, albeit as property not currency, and the New York State Department of Financial Services has started bitcoin on a path to where it will be properly regulated.
TheStreet Ratings team rates OVERSTOCK.COM INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate OVERSTOCK.COM INC (OSTK) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: OSTK Ratings Report