TigerDirect.com, a significant US retailer of electronics products, announced Thursday it will accept payments made in the Bitcoin currency.
The move is a small but notable step in the gradual transformation of Bitcoin from an obscure digital currency into a mainstream payment mechanism. Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride, with its value surging on technological enthusiasm and speculative investing and then crashing, as when countries like China throw cold water on it.
Partnerships with mainstream companies -- even ones like TigerDirect.com that are focused on tech-savvy buyers -- helps add some legitimacy and make the coins more useful for commerce rather than just hoarding on the hope that the value will increase. Also this week, two Las Vegas casinos started accepting bitcoins.
"TigerDirect has always been on the forefront of alternative online payment methods and delivering the most convenient ways for our customers to shop," said Steven Leeds, director of corporate marketing for TigerDirect, in a statement.
The company will also sell AMD-based computer hardware called mining rigs that let people mint new bitcoins as they verify the public trail earlier bit clean transactions. The supply of new bitcoins steadily dwindles by design, so as more bitcoins are minted, it becomes more difficult and less cost-effective for Bitcoin miners to mint new bitcoins.
TigerDirect.com partnered with BitPay to handle the Bitcoin transactions, the company said.