PayPal has traditionally had a rather fractious relationship with the world’s most popular crypto-currency, so it is very interesting to see it announce fledgling support for Bitcoin payments, allowing PayPal merchants to accept the virtual currency as payment for digital goods transactions, by integrating its new partners BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin into its merchants’ payment software.
This does not, as PayPal is at pains to stress, mean that it will handle Bitcoin payments directly – only that merchants can easily accept payments by Bitcoin,
‘To be clear, today’s news does not mean that PayPal has added Bitcoin as a currency in our digital wallet or that Bitcoin payments will be processed on our secure payments platform. PayPal has always embraced innovation, but always in ways that make payments safer and more reliable for our customers. Our approach to Bitcoin is no different. That’s why we’re proceeding gradually, supporting Bitcoin in some ways today and holding off on other ways until we see how things develop.’
Merchants wanting to accept Bitcoin will still need a wallet from BitPay, Coinbase or GoCoin, but they now have the option to instantly convert Bitcoins to recognised hard currency via integration with the PayPal Payments Hub. At present the scheme is limited to North America, but it is likely to be expanded if all goes well.
Despite PayPal’s cautious approach, the move signals a growing acceptance of Bitcoin by both the public and by business (as dramatically demonstrated by US retail giant Newegg’s recent announcement that it now accepts Bitcoin payments).
Although at present merchants do not gain any great advantage over simply accepting Bitcoin payments directly through BitPay, Coinbase or GoCoin, it is likely that as time goes on PayPal will integrate Bitcoin more and more tightly into its regular suite of services.
How BitCoin fans will feel about this is, however, is open to question. While some are keen to see greater acceptance of the cryptocurrency, those who view Bitcoin as an anarchic and unregulated alternative to the existing corrupt government controlled ecosystem, are likely to be less impressed.
Fortunately for them, the very nature of Bitcoin means that those who choose to can probably defy attempts to regulate it, and there is anyway a new generation of virtual currencies designed to be even harder to regulate…
If you are interested in learning how to use Bitcoins to pay for VPN anonymously, make sure your check out our Bitcoin How-to series, starting here.