Microsoft Begins Accepting Bitcoin

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — In a big boost to Bitcoin barons, Microsoft has announced that consumers may now exchange Bitcoins for the company’s apps, games and more for Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.

“If you are a person who uses Bitcoin you know it’s not always easy to find places where you can use the digital currency. That is about to change when it comes to Microsoft content,” Athima Chansanchai of the Microsoft News Center stated. “Starting Thursday in the U.S., by using BitPay, the world’s leading Bitcoin payment processor, you can trade-in Bitcoin — at current market value — and add it to your Microsoft account.”

The funds are usable for purchasing content in the Windows Store, or in stores that house Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video.

“For us, this is about giving people options and helping them do more on their devices and in the cloud,” says Eric Lockard, corporate vice president of Universal Store at Microsoft. “The use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts [and] we expect this growth to continue.”

“Allowing people to use Bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend,” Lockard added.

According to the company, Bitcoin will now appear as an option for those wishing to add money to their Microsoft accounts.

“If you want to transfer your Bitcoins, you first need to select the amount of money to add to your Microsoft account,” Chansanchai explains. “BitPay calculates the equivalent amount in Bitcoin and delivers that information, along with a BitPay Bitcoin address and payment instructions. You then pay the displayed amount of Bitcoin from your Bitcoin wallet to complete the transaction.”

BitPay supports more than 50,000 businesses, including TigerDirect, Virgin Galactic and Newegg.

Although the virtual currency can be used to fund a user’s Microsoft account, it cannot currently be used to directly pay for Microsoft products and services other than those now being offered, i.e. apps, games and other ancillary products and services. The company notes that further offers may be forthcoming, however, as necessary to keep up with the changing needs of customers who are using micropayments and other banking alternatives.

There is also a cap on the value of Bitcoin exchanged per day of $1,000 (or its equivalent in the user’s country or region’s currency) into a Microsoft account on any given day, and no more than $5,000 to additional Microsoft accounts registered by the user or in the user’s name.

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