Overstock to Release New Stock Based on Bitcoin Technology

Major online retailer Overstock is planning to issue new kind of securities that will be developed with the use of technology behind cryptocurrencies.

Overstock.com is an online retailer offering brand-name merchandise at discount prices. Photo: Wikimedia

Overstock.com is an online retailer offering brand-name merchandise at discount prices. Photo: Wikimedia

US-based online shopping platform Overstock plans to issue new stock worth of $500 million with the use of technology behind bitcoin. As Wired reported yesterday, the company filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

“We may decide to offer securities as digital securities…the ownership and transfer of which are recorded on a cryptographically-secured distributed ledger system using technology similar to (or the same as) the distributed ledger technology used for trading digital currencies,” the SEC filing states.

Patrick Byrne, Overstock’s CEO, first revealed the intention to create the new security using the bitcoin technology last year. He said at that time that the company had partnered with developers in order to realize the idea.

Byrne plans to create the stock that will not be controlled by any stock exchange, instead, it will be controlled by a network of computers distributed over the internet that are out of control of authorities. These computers will record all trading operations in an online open ledger that any time will be available for check.

Byrne has always been an active supporter of digital currency. In 2014, his company became the biggest online retailer that adopted the virtual currency through a partnership with Coinbase. Byrne believes bitcoin has a huge potential and can improve the financial system of the US as well as minimize the government’s control of the economy.

According to the SEC filing, Overstock will now be able to release any type of securities, such as warrants and common stock, in digital form. The securities will be traded through an alternative trading system (ATS), a term used to describe for a non-exchange trading platform that connects buyers and sellers.

Byrne hopes the SEC will approve the filing, although this may take some time.

“The SEC staff in corporate finance is notoriously risk averse when it comes to new technology, so they may delay things for a long while and request lots of additional disclosures,” he said. “[But] the parade of horribles in the disclosure is very complete, so I would think that it would get approved eventually.”

Even if the project will be realized, Byrne expects that only few investors will prefer to store their shares in digital form due to its technological uncertainty. That’s why he said the filing must be properly regulated by the SEC.

“I wouldn’t have taken all the time and trouble and expense to do this if I didn’t plan on using it someday soon,” Byrne commented on the filing.

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