Microsoft accepting Bitcoin as payment method
Thu 11 Dec 2014
Bitcoin’s much-discussed potential as a financial ‘Rosetta Stone’ has been boosted by the news that tech behemoth Microsoft is now beginning to accept the cryptocurrency as a payment method.
A new article in Microsoft’s billing help section details the limitations of the new arrangement, which allows users to purchase apps, games and digital content for use with Windows and Windows Phone and also Xbox games, music, or video content. Users cannot currently pay directly via Bitcoin, but must use a new ‘redeem bitcoin’ option in the payment process to add credit to an existing Microsoft Wallet account. Furthermore the scheme is ‘currently’ not available outside the United States.
In addition to Microsoft’s interstitial buffer of processing Bitcoin payments via Microsoft accounts – which a cynic might misinterpret as an opportunistic attempt to bolster a staid and unpopular product by leveraging a newer and ‘edgier’ one – the company is funnelling payments via the BitPay system, which further protects Redmond from the current volatility of the Bitcoin currency. Bitcoin transactional systems such as BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin will provide payment to a merchant at whatever the current exchange rate is between Bitcoin and the target currency.
Unlike payments made with credit cards, Bitcoin payments cannot be refunded, and so the page advises the user to ‘make sure to review your transaction before paying with your digital wallet’.
The initial step into the Bitcoin market for Redmond has been presaged several times this year. In February the MS search engine Bing added the facility to calculate currency conversions into Bitcoin (if you’re interested, it’s currently running at 0.0028 Bitcoin per dollar, 0.0044 in sterling); also company founder Bill Gates expressed interest in cryptocurrencies during a Reddit open discussion, and later expressed what can only be described as ‘worried excitement’ about the low-cost infrastructure and potential of Bitcoin on Bloomberg’s ‘Street Smart’.
The deal sets an expansive seal on the first year for new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, whose commitment to interoperability and cooperation with the world outside of the Microsoft ecostructure seems pragmatic and prudent in an increasingly open-source and crowd-sourcing world.