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Bitfash: Shopping for Fashion Brands with Bitcoin
Yeah, there has been so many stories on Bitcoin since mid-April when it lost about half of the value over night after hitting a record high, thanks to a speculation wave which resulted in a DDoS attack and ‘panic sale’. Also there emerged all kinds of related services like exchanges, and businesses like this food ordering service that accept Bitcoin.
Riding the wave, Bitfash, a service for Bitcoin holders to shop for fashion brands, was launched in the past April. Though the company behind it, Woods and Kelkar Pty Ltd, and the two founders are Australian, Chris Woods, one of the founders, is living in Beijing and now working on a Chinese version of the website and has been looking at the opportunities in China.
Three brands, Zara, Forever 21 and Mr. Porter, are available now and more will be added over time. Delivery and after-sales service, however, are taken care of directly by brands, not Bitfash. It charges consumers a small amount of fee. The exchange rate between USD and Bitcoin is consistent with that on MtGox, currently the largest Bitcoin exchange and reflecting the prevailing exchange rate.
Though speculators may make up the larger group of the total Bitcoin holders and would like to hoard some waiting for the price go up, the smaller group, Bitfash believes, would like to spend it for goods and services online. And before Bitfash, there was no fashion brands that could be purchased with Bitcoins.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of Bitfash’s customers are male and tech-savvy. But there are also high street consumers. Website visitors by location: 35% from Asia/Oceania(China: 8%), 32% from USA, and 32% from Europe. Most of users are between ages 18-34. Currently the majority of its customers are from the USA and Australia.
Woods believes Bitcoin is the most technologically advanced digital currency and they’d accept other virtual currencies if they were equally or even more advanced. As both founders used to work in investment banking sector, they are aware of Bicoin risks, saying they’d manage their working capital balances of Bitcoins and USD ‘to maintain the working capital needed to sustain an efficient business operation’.
Given the Bitcoin’s volatility we saw in the past months, you cannot help guessing that any business only accepting Bitcoin must be a speculator. Woods claims, “We try not to be speculators because it distracts us away from the point of Bitfash”. He pointed out that the value became quite stable in the month after the incident in April.
It’s very likely that we’ll see speculation drives price up and down in the near future, but Woods believes “over the next few years as more and more people start using Bitcoin the price will inevitably increase, but we think it will be a steady increase”.
“From this moment going forward, you will see more Bitcoin infrastructure come online (which we believe will manifest itself as more efficient exchanges, easy-to-use merchant services, and of course government regulation). This will gradually lead to gains in confidence and hence you will see more people purchasing Bitcoin for personal use and therefore putting upward pressure on the Bitcoin price”, he said.
Bitcoin actually has become a hot topic in China, at least among media. Woods noticed even CCTV, China’s state TV station, broadcast two features, with positive or neutral tone, on Bitcoin in the past month. Some Taobao retailers started accepting it and a few Chinese are mining Bitcoins.