MIDVALE — While continuing to grab headlines, scare banks and mint millionaires out of techno-wunderkinds, the world of cryptocurrency, for most, remains a murky and mysterious realm.
Overstock wants to change that.
On Friday, Overstock.com officials announced a new digital wallet, Bitsy, which they say has overcome some of the confusion and complexity on the user-end of the new currency systems and created a tool suited for the average citizen. Overstock Founder/CEO Patrick Byrne, whose online retail company was an early adopter of bitcoin as a medium of exchange, said Bitsy is delivering on crytocurrency pledges that most systems have struggled to achieve.
"The Bitsy service is a game changer because it gives customers the freedom that bitcoin has always promised," Byrne said in a prepared statement. "This new Bitsy wallet has extraordinary advantage in convenience versus anything currently on the market. In addition to setting a new standard for cryptocurrency wallets, integrating with Bitsy will allow Overstock to take the next step in its cryptocurrency journey by allowing the company to offer bitcoin for sale directly from the retail website."
The innovation underlying crypto currencies is called blockchain, a technology which can be envisioned as a shared digital spreadsheet document in which every transaction or change to the data is recorded and must be verified by participating, validating peers.
For now, those interested in dipping their toes into the crypto market via Bitsy will need to sign up to participate in a beta effort, though the wallet should be available in early 2019 to the general public.
Bitsy is being backed by Overstock subsidiary Medici Ventures, an investment firm focused on advancing the use of blockchain technology through strategic investment. Medici President Jonathan Johnson told the Deseret News one of Bitsy's noteworthy innovations is dispensing with complicated security keys in favor of biometrics in a system that's much more resilient to digital intruders.
"Other digital wallets advanced from using your mother's maiden name to 12 magic words as a security key," Johnson said. "Bitsy has solved that by using facial recognition as the key. And, once they've confirmed you are you, that information is destroyed and there's no honey pot for hackers to attack."
Another feature that distinguishes Bitsy from other wallet systems is a recovery key. Right now, losing a smartphone that houses your digital wallet or having a catastrophic failure of a desktop computer that holds your crypto can lead to an unrecoverable loss of your digital currency. Bitsy, Johnson said, has solved that.3 comments on this story
In addition, whereas many digital wallets represent your crypto holdings as a derivative and not the actual currency, Bitsy's transactional process accommodates direct fiat-to-bitcoin purchases. Bitsy makes you the sole controller of your holdings without the need to convert crypto placeholders or IOUs with a vendor or third-party for transactions.
While Bitsy will launch as a wallet specifically for bitcoin, Johnson said plans are in place to allow transaction in other cryptocurrencies in the future.
In addition to the Bitsy digital wallet, Medici is supporting businesses in other areas with high potential for blockchain utilization including voting, identity security, supply chain and more.