Braintree opens private beta on Bitcoin payments for US merchants

Mobile payment processor Braintree announced Thursday that it is opening up private beta access to allow US merchants to accept Bitcoin through v.zero.

A PayPal subsidiary, Braintree developed the v.zero SDK as an open platform that gives merchants access to sophisticated payment tools and relevant payment methods through a single integration.

Realizing that Bitcoin had gained relevance among its customers, Braintree announced last September a partnership with Coinbase to allow its merchants to accept the digital currency.

The company said that in addition to Bitcoin, merchants can accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay. Braintree said it will continue to support new payment methods as they become relevant to its customers.

“This is just the beginning,” said Braintree in its blog post. “With just a few lines of code and a click of a button, merchants using v.zero will be able to add new payment methods and features we support in minutes.”

In his report on the Braintree-Coinbase partnership back in September, my colleague, Andre Infante, pointed to a Wall Street Journal article in which Braintree CEO Bill Ready said his company had been watching for a while, but had reservations about the digital currency.

“The reason why we were watching it up to this point is that a lot of things needed to be solved in order for us to have a leading use case. There were regulatory questions and questions over whether it would be easy for merchants and consumers to use,” said Ready.

Infante wrote that Braintree’s support “indicates that in the near future, we could see BrainTree clients like Uber and AirBnB open their doors to Bitcoin commerce, though they will have to specifically authorize the support. It’s also a positive sign that PayPal is aware of and excited about the potential of Bitcoin (particularly their use of it in marketing material) and that we may soon see some form of Bitcoin integration in PayPal itself.”

Indeed, PayPal announced later in September the first stage of its promised Bitcoin integration, forging partnerships with Coinbase, BitPay, and GoCoin.

I spoke with Bitcoin Shop CEO Charles Allen and eGifter CEO Tyler Roye in October to get their perspective on PayPal’s announcement.

Roye said he thought it was “fascinating” that PayPal was considering not just Bitcoin but also altcoins, as GoCoin also processes Litecoin and Dogecoin payments. “Bitcoin is the obvious choice and PayPal could have stopped there. The fact that they are even considering support beyond bitcoin suggests to me they believe in cryptocurrencies in general.”

“Part of the digital currency challenge is to get enough momentum that encourages business to develop a strategy,” Allen said. “As one of the largest companies to announce a bitcoin strategy, PayPal’s move should signal to others that it’s time to get involved in digital currencies.”

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