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Author Topic: Currency-agnostic pricelists / shopping-carts  (Read 1112 times)
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February 03, 2011, 08:29:07 PM

Looking into the complexities of trying to accept Bitcoin as a retailer, I realised that in all the years since Digitalis Cluster used to run on a BBS the agnostic pricelists it used have not become something I hae seen anyhere else yet other than currency markets.

The basic idea was a trader in a ship at a starport knowing local currency might well be totally useless on other planets might prefer to perceive the local prices in terms of almost any item that happens to be on the pricelist.

If a retailer could let browsers of their site see prices denominated in whatever currency that particular visitor to the site is thinking of using to purchase with, it would not be necessary to even reveal to the prospective customer what currency the owner of the site actually maintains it's own account(s) in. All the merchant would need do is tell the shopping cart system which currency the prices they are telling it are in and let the shopping cart / payment processing system take care of converting that into the visitor's currency both in the price lists and, eventually, at checkout.

Cluster's agnostic pricelists were even more agnostic than that. Pick any item on the price list and have the list displayed in terms of that item's list price.

Making it clear to the visitor that all the prices are of course based on the current market values of all the commodities or at least those of all he commodities that like to think of themselves as currencies or that have historically often been used as if they were some kind of currency could provide a rationalisation to the person browsing the site for why the longer they take to get to the cashout without refreshing the page the more the prices of any or all items might have changed by the time they do "check out".

This would be similar to the case of a PayPal-using merchant who chooses to maintain their PayPal account in some specific currency they prefer for their own use whilst customers pay using any currency PayPal implements, but, it would not require alienating potential customers by failing to present one's prices in terms of their own pet/favourite/fiated currency.

No risk of bitcoin users seeing your prices are not denominated in bitcoins and thus avoiding you as not catering (pandering?) sufficiently to bitcoin. No risk of U.S. dollar users seeing all your prices expressed in bitcoins instead of in dollars.

Ability to keep your money in swiss francs without having to also show your prices as being in swiss francs. Let the visitor see your prices as they would have been in their chosen currency had they bought instead of bringing up the price list. Do they want to refresh the price list to see how much the price has changed since last they refreshed the page or get to the checkout before it changes more than they are comfortable with?

The big advantage Cluster had of course was it had no intention/capability of changing what a given planet's local-currency price was for each thing. The type of planet it's population etc determined it's prices for each thing and even it's population was not dynamic, it was merely a repeatable random number generator so necessarily always produced the same planet every time.

The underlying problem here seems to be market volatility. It is hard to know how many icecream cones your merchandise is worth if the price of icecream cones changes from moment to moment.

But there should be no need to reveal to customers whether your own internal accounting is in icecream cones or tons of rocket fuel or some made up unpronounceable local currency that only that planet alone in all the petabillions of galaxies ever even heard of.

(Though Cluster did in fact by default display prices in just such a previously unheard of currency local to the particular planet.)

If shops could actually display their prices in terms of bitcoin instead of merely accepting bitcoin that might decrease the "necessity" of figuring out "how many dollars is that" or "how many kopeks is that" each time you consider using bitcoin instead of dollars or kopeks to buy something.

If all the prices are in dollars, it kind of seems more convenient to simply spend dollars than to go look up how many dollars I could get for a bitcoiun right now.

Why should I have to even think about that? Show me the prices in bitcoins. Or in kopecks. Heck in any currency you accept. And if you can do that and you happen to sell monkeywrenches heck I wonder what the other things' prices would look like if you display it all in terms of moneywrenches. No big reason not to be able to, is there?


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