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Bryan Yurcan
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The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency

Intuit announced this week it will enable businesses to accept Bitcoin payments.

It seems that Bitcoin -- and the idea of virtual currency -- becomes more mainstream by the week. Earlier this month came the amusing announcement that Bitcoin will be the title sponsor of a college football bowl game. More significantly, Quickbooks maker Intuit announced it will facilitate Bitcoin payments via a service called PayByCoin.

Though Bitcoin has long been derided in some corners as only being used by drug dealers, it's clear that the elitist tastemakers are wrong about this and that the will of the people can't be ignored. But while there increasingly are more venues for people to pay with Bitcoin, still a small percentage of the overall U.S. business ecosystem is equipped to accept it.

But that may all change with the Intuit announcement. I would imagine a large chunk of the country's small businesses use QuickBooks, and presumably Intuit feels enough of its client base would use this service to offer it.

Per the blog announcement from Intuit:

"Intuit's new PayByCoin service is made possible by a new integration between QuickBooks Online and Coinbase, the largest and fastest-growing Bitcoin wallet service in the United States.

PayByCoin is now available as a free add-on to small business operators who use QuickBooks Online to generate electronic invoices. Heres how it works: Small business operators register with CoinBase and link their wallets to their existing QuickBooks Online account. When a customer receives an invoice, they receive the option to pay by traditional methods, such as credit card, or by Bitcoin. Intuit does not currently charge any fee for this new service, and there is no fee for small businesses who use Coinbase."

Much like how Square revolutionized point-of-sale payments, allowing even flea market vendors to accept credit cards, this announcement could portend a new era in the Bitcoin payments landscape.

[Related Content: Why Bitcoin Won't Die]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 8:09:16 PM
re: The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency
The news from earlier in the year about ebay/PayPal even considering Bitcoin (a shift from its earlier stance), is still bigger news. QuickBooks payments are only a drop in the bucket compared to PayPal. Once PayPal gets onboard, bitcoin should really start to move along.
User Rank: Author
6/28/2014 | 4:02:27 PM
re: The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency
Thanks for your comment Chip. I think that's great point. Having that either/or option for virtual currency will help legitimize virtual currencies and get customers more comfortable with using them.
Chip Wickenden
Chip Wickenden,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/27/2014 | 6:55:55 PM
re: The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency
The fascinating element here is that Quickbooks now "straddles" both regular currency, like dollars, and digital currencies, not forcing users to choose one or the other. Both is always better than either or.
User Rank: Author
6/27/2014 | 6:11:46 PM
re: The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency
Well, even if they are doing this mostly for marketing/image purposes that also says something in itself, that Bitcoin is something they feel is beneficial business-wise for them to be associated with in some capacity.
User Rank: Author
6/27/2014 | 4:48:07 PM
re: The Continuing Rise of Virtual Currency
I wonder how much of the "momentum" is actual use/transactions and how much is branding/marketing. That is, for a financial services company such as Intuit, enabling Bitcoin payments enhances an image of forward-looking, high-tech, even trendy. That's good marketing -- and if people choose to transact with Bitcoins, even better. I'm not saying it's all hype, I'm just saying there probably are image/marketing benefits for firms like Intuit to facilitate virtual currency transactions, even if the volume is very small. Before we can discuss momentum we need real figures on real vtransaction volume.
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