PayPal Begins Embracing Bitcoin

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — The continued mainstreaming of cryptocurrency Bitcoin continues with the news that PayPal is now embracing the upstart payment mechanism via its Braintree subsidiary.

As part of this initiative, Braintree is partnering with Coinbase, a Bitcoin processing company that serves numerous businesses, including Websites such as Dropbox and others use Braintree to process online payments with a service that is available for PayPal’s reported 152 million users.

The announcement of “PayPal’s first foray into Bitcoin,” was made on Monday at San Francisco’s Techcrunch’s Disrupt conference by Braintree CEO Bill Ready, who said that the company is set to begin accepting Bitcoin in the “coming months.”

Ready explains that Bitcoin will be a boon to m-commerce, as mobile shopping conversion rates lag those of desktop rates, in part because of the tedium of using credit cards on mobile devices. While more than half of online shopping reportedly happens on mobile devices, a mere 10 to 15 percent of actual purchases are made using these devices.

“The reason for that gap is that there’s a two-thirds to 75 percent fall off in conversion. People just bail out,” Ready said, noting that the company’s one-touch payment system boosts these sales. “We’re able to get to a better conversion rate on mobile than on desktop. [Merchants] should be able to get a strong amount of ecommerce sessions on phones and buys.”

The company will reportedly allow users to link their Braintree wallet with a Coinbase wallet.

“We had a lot of developers tell us they’d love to add Bitcoin,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong stated. “But Braintree would handle all of their payments and they didn’t want to add another SDK. They would say that if Braintree added it, they would add it.”

While neither eBay nor PayPal have announced plans to accept Bitcoin directly, the Braintree move is a way for the companies to test the waters without fear of tarnishing the parent brands.

Bitcoin’s volatility has been a major stumbling block to its uptake by legitimate companies, with its value plummeting over the past year, from highs of more than $1000 per coin last year, to lows of less than $500 today. It is hoped that this volatility will subside as Bitcoin becomes more mainstream — and more widely accepted at online merchants, including those within the adult entertainment market space.