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Op-ed - Sees Record New Users and $24

It wasn’t just regular consumers who were able to benefit from the much-anticipated Amazon Prime Day., the escrow service that connects users with bitcoin to users with Amazon gift cards, saw a significant amount of growth leading up to the big day.

“We had the highest number of new users in a single week,” Andrew Lee, CEO of Purse, said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. There were a total of 2,145 new users during the week.

However, the people weren’t just signing up and then forgetting about the website. Instead, they were actively participating on the site, purchasing goods. What surprised the team, though, was that it wasn’t just prime purchases that people were making.

“There was a lot of hype around the Prime Day event, but when we look at the specific orders, users didn’t just order necessarily prime deals but whatever they needed to buy,” Lee told Bitcoin Magazine.

All told, Prime Day was a success for Purse. During the week, there were a total of 1,050 total transactions made on the site. On Prime Day itself, approximately $24,000 was spent on the site.

How Works

One of the benefits of bitcoin is that it is money for the Internet. The problem for many users is that Amazon does not yet accept it. Purse enables a trusted exchange where a user with gift cards is able to exchange the value on those cards for bitcoin.

And there is a lot of available money on gift cards. According to a New York Post article, $44 billion has been left unused on gift cards since 2008. And that number is continuing to grow. There are billions of dollars of unused Amazon gift cards.

Purse enables the user to sell their gift cards for bitcoin, usually at a discount anywhere from 5 percent to 50 percent. These gift-card holders buy an item for the bitcoin holder. The bitcoin is then held in escrow, and when the purchase is completed and the item is delivered, the bitcoin is released to the gift-card holder.

Purse has become quite a success among bitcoin users. According to Lee, more than $500,000 is transacted on the website each month, with more than 45,000 users spending more than $2 million through the site over the past year.

Purse Going Forward

Purse announced Tuesday a series of changes to its platform, including a complete redesign and a new shopping cart to enable the easy addition and removal of items. These moves are an effort to increase the likelihood that people will use bitcoin to make purchases.

“Bitcoin commerce needs to make economic sense for everyone involved in a transaction. It’s only a matter of time before we see large retailers, such as Expedia or Overstock, exit Bitcoin. They have already cited low usage,” said Lee in a blog post titled Bitcoin Commerce is Broken. “We’ll be introducing solutions [that] will allow consumers to spend bitcoins at any merchant with a discount, and a whole lot more.”