PayPal inches toward bitcoin acceptance by enabling payments for digital goods

PayPal is dipping its toes slowly into the world of bitcoin. The company announced Tuesday that it will start accepting bitcoin through its payments hub, but only for digital goods like ebooks, music or video games.

[company]PayPal[/company] announced earlier this month that its subsidiary unit, Braintree, will accept bitcoin. However, Braintree, which processes payments for companies like Uber and Airbnb, only teamed up with Coinbase to accept bitcoin payments. In an increasingly common move for companies entering the bitcoin arena, PayPal announced it is partnering with multiple payment processors, including BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin for digital goods transactions.

It’s not a full embrace of bitcoin, and Scott Ellison, senior director of corporate strategy at PayPal, made it clear in the company’s announcement that the company is taking a cautious approach:
[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]To be clear, today’s news does not mean that PayPal has added Bitcoin as a currency in our digital wallet or that Bitcoin payments will be processed on our secure payments platform. PayPal has always embraced innovation, but always in ways that make payments safer and more reliable for our customers. Our approach to Bitcoin is no different. That’s why we’re proceeding gradually, supporting Bitcoin in some ways today and holding off on other ways until we see how things develop.[/blockquote]

Right now, the bitcoin payments will be limited to sales in North America and will not be eligible for pre-sell content (like an advanced payment for a video game) because of a “desire to protect our customers.” Geographically restricting sales at the onset is not an unusual move — companies like Overstock just expanded to international sales this month as well — but it’s a sign that we shouldn’t expect rapid adoption of bitcoin from PayPal or its parent company [company]eBay[/company] any time soon.