Large Canadian ecommerce firm Coastal Contacts has announced that it is adopting bitcoin as a payment mechanism. The firm, which conducts its sales online, will begin accepting the currency within months, it said.

Founded in 2000, Burnaby, BC-based Coastal specialises in direct-to-consumer sales, cutting out intermediaries in markets that have traditionally relied on them. It is the firm behind Clearly Contacts, a brand that focused on online sales for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Customers enter their prescription details and order from an online selection. Although it operates online, it does have some retail outlets for customers to try on eyewear and order glasses from.

Coastal is also an investor in ShoeMe, a business started by a former employee, which does the same thing for footwear.

The firm, which will host its 2013 annual earnings call next week, made CAD$196m in revenues in calendar 2012. It made $22.8m in profit on revenues of $55.6m in the quarter ending 31 July 2013. It represents a big win for bitcoin, with over 4.1m worldwide customers and 650 employees. In addition to the US and Canada, it operates in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Brazil.

Coastal said that it decided to accept bitcoin after demand from customers. “The demand has been small but aligns with a key demographic for us – innovators,” it said in a statement.

The percentage of revenue coming from bitcoin is difficult to estimate. “We anticipate it being a small percentage immediately, but as acceptance of the currency grows, we want to be prepared to allow consumers to pay in whatever method is most convenient to them,” the firm said.

Coastal is committed to launching bitcoin support in the next quarter, although it is keeping wraps on which payment processor it will work with for now. Its IT group is integrating payment gateways now. It will probably convert its bitcoin to fiat currency, minimising its exposure to currency fluctuations.

Coastal also signed a partnership with Overstock last month to supply its eyewear to the US firm’s customer base. Overstock made headlines earlier this month by announcing its own bitcoin sales, scooping $130,000 within the first day.

Eyeglasses image via Shutterstock

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