PayPal and Virtual Currency: Next Steps
By: Scott Ellison, Senior Director Corporate Strategy, PayPal
Bitcoin has been big news this year, and for good reason. Although crypto-currencies have been around for some time, only Bitcoin has achieved significant scale. This new entrant in the world of payments has people asking lots of questions – including how and if PayPal will decide to work with Bitcoin.
While we’re focused on giving people everywhere safer and more seamless buying experiences, we’re also fierce advocates of giving businesses — and in turn their customers — flexibility and the freedom of choice. Earlier this month we announced that businesses working with Braintree will soon be able to accept Bitcoin as a payment option through their innovative v.zero SDK and relationship with Coinbase.
Today we are announcing PayPal’s next step in helping merchants accept Bitcoin payments. PayPal has entered into agreements with leading Bitcoin payment processors BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin. Starting today, these agreements let PayPal digital goods merchants accept Bitcoin with a simple integration through the PayPal Payments Hub. This will be available to merchants in North America first.
We chose to work with BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin because of our commitment to offering innovative and safer ways for businesses to accept payments. All three companies have taken steps to ensure that they know their customers and that those customers are offered certain protections. We believe digital goods merchants will be excited to work with these industry-leading companies to sell ringtones, games and music and get paid with 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.
But giving our digital goods merchants an easy, one-stop way to test the waters with this new form of payment isn’t the only way we work with Bitcoin. For some time now, we’ve helped merchants selling Bitcoin mining equipment to accept PayPal payments. This will continue. But to safeguard customers, we’ve decided not to work with merchants who pre-sell these products. This is consistent with our approach to pre-sales of other goods; we hold off anytime we determine that pre-selling may not provide a good buyer experience.
Pre-selling is when a business asks for money up-front for a product or service it will deliver in the future. Customers may not get their money back if the business goes out of business before the product is shipped but after a buyer protection period expires. Again, our decision not to support pre-sales is shaped by our desire to protect our customers.
PayPal also needs to follow the laws and regulations in every market we operate. For this reason, virtual currency exchangers and administrators interested in working with PayPal in the future must secure the appropriate licenses and put anti-money laundering procedures in place.
PayPal is excited about all the innovations taking place in payments these days. More choices in how people create value, share it, buy, sell and trade it – that’s exactly what PayPal is all about. And we believe Bitcoin offers unique opportunities as more people and businesses experiment with it. We are excited to work with businesses and business models that allow us to offer new experiences and the trusted service our customers expect. We hope to do more with Bitcoin as its ecosystem continues to evolve.
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the PayPal Forward blog.