Expedia takes bitcoin

in the latest high profile acceptance of the cryptocurrency


Bruised by a series of business problems earlier this year, Bitcoin stands to recover some of its cachet: travel site Expedia said Wednesday that it’s accepting payments made in the virtual currency.

But Expedia sees Bitcoin as just another payment mechanism, and people now can reserve hotel accommodations at the site through a partnership with Bitcoin transaction processor Coinbase. Other Expedia booking services such as cars and airplane flights will be get Bitcoin support later, said Michael Gulmann, Expedia’s vice president of global product.

“Bitcoin is becoming a viable currency,” Gulmann said. “This is no different from going into any market, understanding how we can do business, and offering the forms of payment customers want.”

Actually, it’s more than that. Here we have a major e-commerce site lending its brand clout to a new technology and making its sizable customer base aware that it believes Bitcoin is legitimate, not risky. That could reassure people to come on in — the Bitcoin water is fine.

“It does make Bitcoin a little more serious,” Gulmann said. “From our viewpoint, Bitcoin is young, but it is a cryptocurrency that’s here to stay.”


Gulmann sees Bitcoin as analogous to eBay’s electronic payment service, PayPal, which rose to fame in the 1990s. “I remember when PayPal was a strange thing — you’d use an email address to send money from one person to another. Now PayPal is fairly mainstream,” he said. “The path Bitcoin is on is in some ways what PayPal was on. At first it seems strange, something that only the technocentric crowd uses, but it’s going to become more mainstream.”



Expedia uses Coinbase's service to fulfill bitcoin-based transactions.
Expedia uses Coinbase’s service to fulfill bitcoin-based transactions. Expedia