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Bonanza’s Bitcoin Prank Reveals Popularity of PayPal

Online marketplace Bonanza told users it would launch an exclusive new cryptocurrency, “Boncoin,” that was similar to Bitcoin and could be used to pay for purchases. Longtime users familiar with the founder’s sense of humor soon realized the announcement on the Bonanza blog was an April Fool’s Day prank. But what may have come as a surprise to some were comments from buyers and sellers demonstrating the popularity of PayPal, eBay’s payments unit.

The April 1st announcement said that upon launch, the Boncoin’s initial market value would be set to one Boncoin per $900 USD. “This makes it basically twice as valuable as Bitcoin, giving it a key psychological edge over the incumbent,” Bonanza wisecracked.

“As we prepare our final launch, we’d like to get your feedback. Should we continue to offer Paypal and Amazon Payments for buyers after launching Boncoin, or should we make a clean break from the “ordinary” options and move exclusively to processing transactions in Boncoin,” the marketplace asked.

Bonanza users weighed in, and even those who knew it was an April Fool’s prank urged Bonanza to keep PayPal. Commentors on the blog said offering multiple payment options was a better way to keep buyers, and a few mentioned their desire to keep Amazon as a payment method as well. As Bonanza noted in the blog post, Google Checkout was retired last year.

Writing April Fool’s Day blog posts is a tradition at Bonanza, though they are not always well received by all users. Last year, Bonanza said it would operate a pet exchange, but many users felt it was not appropriate to joke about unwanted pets. The year before, the April 1st post said Bonanza was introducing a new experience that would take the best of “cats” and “commerce” and bundle it into one exciting package called “cat commerce.”

In 2011, Bonanza blogged about a new virtual helper called “Clippy” (a takeoff on a Microsoft feature that was a dud) – “By anticipating user questions before they are asked, we can not only provide a more satisfying experience, but we can also minimize the costs of our support staff,” the company joked.

And in 2010, Bonanza said it was forgoing online advertising, an increasingly competitive space, and would instead place the entire Bonanzle inventory in the classifieds section of major metro newspapers, “drawing perhaps hundreds or even thousands of new buyers per month to Bonanzle,” as the site was then called.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.