PayPal enables Bitcoin for North American digital goods merchants

And the coin keeps rolling. PayPal has enabled Bitcoin payments across its network for merchants of digital goods like ringtones, games and music.

The announcement isn't surprising. The company hinted at it a few weeks ago when Braintree allowed Bitcoin transactions for PayPal developers, an obvious foreshadowing of the platform's adoption of the digital currency.

But already the company has taken the next step, announcing on Sept. 23 that all digital goods merchants in North America using PayPal will be able to enable the currency in the PayPal Payments Hub.

The new service was made possible through a partnership between PayPal and payment gateways BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin.

"We chose to work with BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin because of our commitment to offering innovative and safer ways for businesses to accept payments," said a company statement. "All three companies have taken steps to ensure that they know their customers and that those customers are offered certain protections."

PayPal stresses that Bitcoin will not be compatible with the platform's digital wallet, nor will it be able to be processed on the secure payments platform.

"We are proceeding gradually, supporting Bitcoin in some ways today and holding off on other ways until we see how things develop," the statement said.

Tyler Roye, CEO and founder of eGifter, a social and group gifting company that accepts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for more than 200 major retailers offering digital gift cards, said understanding the implications of the burgeoning new currency is a must for retailers who intend to stay competitive.

"For the longest time, the payments business has not faced any significant disruption," Roye said in an email. "Long overdue for a change, the mainstream consumer is now getting a glimpse of what the future of payments might look like... Before you know it, consumers will be at your door, digital wallet in hand, perhaps loaded with multiple currencies like Bitcoin. If you're not ready to accept their payment, your competitors will be."

Retail's POS status quo has been utterly washed away with the tide of new innovation. Apple's unveiling of Apple Pay in tandem with the Merchant Customer Exchange's release of the new CurrentC digital wallet already mandate a coming change in standard checkout procedure. But as Bitcoin grows in popularity, retailers must be prepared for a disruption of not only the physical POS, but the online POS as well.

For retailers who are uncertain of how to begin adjusting to the changing currency current, there are options. Third-party partnerships with companies, such as eGifter, which provides retailers with their own digital Bitcoin gift cards as well as gift cards for other cryptocurrencies, can be a good starting point.

GoCoin CEO Steve Beauregard called PayPal's initiative a "huge endorsement to the digital currency community," and a few weeks ago Braintree CEO Bill Ready told TechCrunch that the platform would be adding Bitcoin as a payment to its SDK.

Bitcoin continues to gain momentum as a viable form of digital currency. Earlier this month Overstock.com announced its acceptance of Bitcoin payments from international customers going forward. The company began accepting Bitcoin payments from U.S. customers in January.

"With such disruptive trends there will be no shortage of solutions," Roye said. "The only truly bad decision a retailer can make is to do nothing. Denial is not a strategy."

For more:
-see this PayPal company statement
-see this TechCrunch article

Related stories:
Overstock.com, Apple pave way for more Bitcoin use
EBay lets users cancel transactions amidst data breach
EBay discloses data breach, asks users to change passwords
EBay pilots click-and-collect program, prepares to take PayPal in-store
EBay to re-launch live auctions

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