Search engine giant Baidu has announced it is now accepting payment in bitcoin for its Jiasule service, which improves websites' performance, speed and security.
Baidu, which has a market cap of $53 billion, is rated by web information company Alexa Internet as the most visited website in China and the fifth most visited website in the world.
Founded in January 2000, Baidu is similar to Google in that its offers a variety of tools and services to produce information and products in response to search terms, however, Baidu is specific to Chinese-language search terms.
Baidu Jiasule is a cloud-based anti-DDOS service and content delivery network, similar to US-based CloudFlare.
Here's a rough translation of the company's news release:
Baidu Jiasule Accepts Bitcoin Payment
How can we reflect the characteristics of a trendy IT person and a professional webmaster? The answer, of course, is to own bitcoins!!!
Bitcoin is a new kind of electronic currency, a digital transfer medium, which has already received a high degree of international recognition, and has already reached into our daily lives. It can be used to buy a cup of coffee, or exchanged for gold and silver. In China, bitcoin is considered quite "trendy".
Today, I have good news for everyone: from 14 October 2013 onwards, Baidu Jiasule will officially support bitcoin payments. Baidu Jiasule users can use bitcoin to pay for any Jiasule services. Baidu Jiasule, as the innovator of the Internet, has become the first cloud services vendor to support bitcoin, giving us richer payment methods and experience.
In the future, Baidu Jiasule will continue to try more new things, giving everyone more convenient payment options.
Jon Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation, said the announcement was "encouraging news", especially since it is coming from China and a NASDAQ-listed company.
"I suspect that Baidu's reasons [for making this move] are similar to the WordPress decision for opening up their services to an expanded customer base. Bitcoin reaches 60+ countries that are currently ignored by VISA, Mastercard, and PayPal," he added.
Matonis went on to say that many Chinese citizens live abroad, but still use Baidu, so it will be useful for these people to be able to pay in bitcoin.
When asked whether this development will encourage more companies to start accepting bitcoins, he said: "I am confident that as more companies see the benefits of frictionless payments with low fees, immediate settlement, and zero chargebacks, they will want to accept bitcoin simply to remain competitive."
At the time of writing, Blockchain.info showed Baidu's wallet had only received 0.1584 BTC, which equates to around $22, however, it's worth bearing in mind it is the day after the payment option's launch.
Bitcoin has been gaining in popularity in China over recent months, with data on SourceForge showing downloads of the Bitcoin-QT in China reaching 250,443 so far this year, beaten only by the US with 503,819 but ahead of the UK with 106,931.
Not only this, but the volume of bitcoins traded with Chinese yuan is increasing. Bitcoincharts shows that Chinese yuan currently accounts for 12% of the total bitcoin exchange volume, while 68% is in US dollars and euro at 6%.
Last month, BTCChina CEO Bobby Lee confirmed that bitcoin was starting to boom in China.
“For the first time in human history, bitcoin has allowed people to save and defer purchasing power, in a digital form. The Chinese people love this concept! It explains bitcoin’s fast adoption in China this year – 2013 has been a breakout year for bitcoin, and even more so in China," he said.
CoinDesk contacted Baidu for comment, but had not received a reply at time of publication. Updates to follow.
What do you think this means for bitcoin?