eBay’s PayPal service will start accepting bitcoins, opening up the world’s second-biggest Internet payment network to virtual currency transactions.
“We’re announcing PayPal’s first foray into bitcoin,” said Mr Bill Ready, chief of eBay’s Braintree unit, at Techcrunch’s Disrupt SF conference on Monday. “Over the coming months, we’ll allow our merchants to accept bitcoins. On the consumer side, it will be a sleek experience.”
PayPal’s payment processor subsidiary Braintree will work with bitcoin-payment service provider Coinbase to enable payments in the virtual currency, added Mr Ready.
eBay, the world’s biggest Web marketplace and operator of a global payment service, is the most significant business to date that has embraced bitcoin.
The move could potentially enable PayPal’s 152 million registered accounts to transact using the virtual currency, spurring wider use and acceptance of bitcoins, said financial services and investment firm Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria.
“PayPal integrating bitcoin into Braintree is a very substantial development,” added Mr Luria.
“Not only will it make it possible for some of the fastest-growing apps to integrate bitcoin seamlessly, it also opens the door for PayPal to integrate bitcoin into its main wallet functionality. If that happens, millions of retailers will be de facto accepting bitcoin overnight.”
Braintree provides payment capabilities on websites and in mobile apps such as car-booking service Uber Technologies and Airbnb, a short-term home-rental service for travellers.
eBay acquired Braintree for US$800 million (S$1 billion) in cash last year to expand its mobile-transaction business.
Mr Ready said tens of thousands of PayPal merchants using Braintree would be able to accept bitcoins if they choose to do so.