CEO of online auction company eBay Jon Donahoe has indicated that the company would be very interested in including support for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency into PayPal.
Speaking at the end of an earnings conference call, Donahoe was asked about Bitcoin, and the plans eBay has for it. He replied “We think Bitcoin will play a very important role in the future. Exactly how that plays out, and how we can best take advantage of it and enable it with PayPal, that’s something we’re actively considering”.
The controversial currency has barely been out of the news in the last 12 months thanks to skyrocketing prices and scandals from the currency exchange Mt Gox. But one Bitcoin is still currently worth £267 and there are plenty of people who have invested in the currency.
The idea of it being accepted by PayPal is an interesting one. The money transfer company has long made noises about becoming a modern financial institution. After all, plenty of money runs through its accounts every year – in 2010 it processed a reported $56billion. Adding Bitcoin would give people another payment option that keeps their money away from traditional banks.
Of course there are not huge numbers of places you can spend Bitcoin currently. Things are improving, but this is still very much a niche currency. That’s something that might not change as long as the US government is making threats about it. PayPal might also be treading a legal minefield if it ends up handling currency that has come from some manner of shady activity.