Ending weeks of fervent speculation, PayPal has made it official: its mobile payment processing unit Braintree will soon start accepting Bitcoin payments.
As expected, the subsidiary, which PayPal scooped up for $800 million in cash last September, has joined forces with Coinbase to integrate “One Touch” Bitcoin payments in the coming months. The exact date the first cryptocash payments through Braintree will begin rolling isn’t yet available.
Braintree CEO Bill Ready announced the big Bitcoin news yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
Coming soon to a checkout near you - a seamless Bitcoin experience w. Braintree + @coinbase! Join merchant beta: firstname.lastname@example.org.— Braintree (@braintree) September 8, 2014
“At PayPal, we’re excited by Braintree’s announcement to add bitcoin to the payment methods they support on their innovative mobile payments platform,” a PayPal spokesperson told Entrepreneur.com this morning.
Chicago-based Braintree is the latest high-profile company to partner with Coinbase. The San Francisco-based Bitcoin exchange and wallet service processes Bitcoin payments for some 36,000 merchants, including Overstock.com, OkCupid, 1-800-Flowers and DISH Network.
Many of Braintree’s partners are equally recognizable big-name firms. They include several hot tech startups like Airbnb, Basecamp, Dropbox, Hotel Tonight, LivingSocial, OpenTable, TaskRabbit and Uber, all of which could soon see their customers paying in Bitcoin thanks to Braintree.
PayPal’s flirtation with Bitcoin integration has been percolating for months, with eBay CEO John Donahoe dropping hints at the company’s annual shareholder meeting last May that it was getting more serious about the world’s first digital currency.
Yesterday, ahead of Braintree’s announcements, the eBay-owned company directly heralded its support for Bitcoin in a minute-long teaser video titled “PayPal Voices.” The minute-long clip, posted on PayPal’s official YouTube page, set the greater Bitcoin community ablaze on social media yesterday with speculation that perhaps PayPal is finally making a move to embrace Bitcoin in and of itself, outside of its Braintree subsidiary.
“Our phone is our wallet,” a rapid-fire stream of actors, aka “the voices of the people economy,” chimed in unison, 10 seconds into the hectic, fast forward-style vignette. “We can spend bitcoin with a tap, without a pocket.”
No need for rumors. PayPal told Entrepreneur.com that it is indeed toying with ways to integrate Bitcoin. Exactly how remains to be seen. The company’s still weighing its options. Maybe the Braintree-Coinbase alliance is PayPal’s version of a trial run. We’ll see.
“We do believe that bitcoin will play an important role in payments in the future and we’re actively considering ways to work with it within PayPal,” the spokesperson said, “but for now we have nothing to announce.”