The growing popularity of digital currencies has recently elicited some noteworthy measures from traditional players in the online payments world. Last week, we discussed a reddit post depicting an American Express account holder receiving direct inquiries as to their interest in digital currency. The alleged occurrence highlights that traditional players are indeed looking over their shoulder and assessing the risks digital currencies pose to their businesses.
Recently, another reddit post showed an e-mail from PayPal Support rejecting a transaction for bitcoin mining equipment because “PayPal may not be used for currency exchange, including the sale of Bitcoin Miners, Lite Coins, and Bit Coins [sic]”. After quite a stir from the Bitcoin community, PayPal President David Marcus clarified via Twitter that the text in the support message was “bad” and is in the process of being corrected.
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The user later received a follow up message relenting on the rejection. Marcus also noted that “We’re believers in Bitcoin though”. In an interview at the LeWeb conference in Paris that he reiterated really likes Bitcoin and even owns some of the digital currency.
While it would be hard to imagine the conservatively-natured PayPal accepting Bitcoin anytime soon, its parent eBay was not shy in expressing willingness to have PayPal do just that as far back as last spring.
In any event, the hiccup over the weekend is probably a blessing in disguise- a wakeup call to solidify a strategy sooner rather than later.