Square’s online marketplace starts accepting bitcoin

If you have the urgent desire to pay for embroidered pillows or a pound of Ugandan coffee using bitcoin, then Square will scratch that itch. On its engineering blog, Square announced plans on Monday to accept bitcoin on any transaction in its online merchant hub, Square Market.

We’ve started to see a lot of individual businesses accept bitcoin — from pizzerias to coffee sellers — but lately online and mobile payment processors have started to take an interest in the crypto-currency. Stripe last week announced a pilot program that will eventually make bitcoin a payment option for all its merchants. And now Square is making it accepted tender to the more than 50,000 merchants that use its online storefront.

Square merchants will actually get their money in their home currency, just as they would a regular credit card transaction. Square, however, is implementing a system making it relatively painless for buyers to engage in online commerce with the digital currency. Here’s how Square Market lead Ajit Varma explained how the process would work:

“When a buyer opts to “Pay with Bitcoin” we first generate a new Bitcoin address and attach it to the order. We will continually monitor this address throughout the checkout process so we know when it has received payment.

“Next, the buyer submits their payment. Buyers with a mobile Bitcoin wallet, simply open their wallet and scan the QR code to load the transaction details. Those with a hosted Bitcoin wallet receive instructions for entering the required information.

“Once the payment details are loaded into the buyer’s wallet, they submit their payment to the network. Next, we detect that our receiving address was successfully funded and automatically advance the buyer to the order confirmation page.”

No news yet on when Square might start accepting bitcoin on its core point-of-sale platform, but given the way it’s implemented the technology online, it wouldn’t be too hard to move that transaction to a smartphone or iPad.