The virtual currency Bitcoin made massive steps in establishing itself as a valid alternative payment method this week with the announcement that the online travel company Expedia has begun accepting payments in the currency. There are of course still many sceptics regarding Bitcoin however Michael Gulmann Vice President of Global Product at Expedia brushes those aside when stating that, "Bitcoin is becoming a viable currency, this is no different from going into any market, understanding how we can do business, and offering the forms of payment customers want." and adding that, "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, 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 is a major online brand, by far the largest to have started accepting Bitcoin, and the knock on effects of that could be huge. It’s not just the fact that people may now actually use the currency to book hotel rooms etc, but that it gives Bitcoin exposure to the millions of visitors every year to the Expedia site. The upside for Expedia is that Bitcoin transactions cost a fraction of the price to process as opposed to credit card transactions and this could mark a steadier period in the life of the fledgling virtual currency. The trading value of Bitcoin has steadied over the last few months and the huge swings we saw in late 2013 are, for the time being at least, not being seen, however it has been noted how volatile Bitcoin can be.
Bitcoin is yet to be embraced fully by the online gaming industry, with the largest US online poker operation accepting it being that of Americas Cardroom however there are a number of Bitcoin only casinos, with one of the very best being that of BitStars.