UPDATE (11th June 16:05 BST): This article has been updated with comment from an Expedia spokesperson.
Travel bookings giant Expedia will start accepting bitcoin for hotel reservations, becoming the first major travel company to accept payments in cryptocurrency.
"Bitcoin is a great example of how Expedia is investing early in an array of payment options to give our customers and partners more choice in the ways they interact with us,” the company said in a press release announcing the move.
Expedia said bitcoin will be integrated into the payment options for customers at check-out, sitting alongside payment methods like PayPal and Visa.
"Customers simply indicate bitcoin as their method of payment and then follow a few steps to safely and securely complete each transaction," the company said.
Expedia Inc., which has a current market cap totalling $9.75bn, will also consider expanding its bitcoin policy to other travel sectors in its portfolio. Besides hotels, Expedia provides a booking platform for airline and cruise tickets, as well as rental cars and leisure activities. It reported revenues of $1.2bn in the last quarter.
The company's entry to the bitcoin economy could have a significant impact due to the size of its business. Consumers booked 146 million room nights through Expedia last year, for example. Expedia competes with firms like Priceline in the online booking space.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Expedia will adopt bitcoin acceptance in other areas depending on the market response to hotel bookings for bitcoin. The company will be processing transactions through Coinbase, but won't hold any of the bitcoin it receives – rather cash out a daily settlement of US dollars.
The San Francisco company currently handles transactions for over 32,000 businesses worldwide.
Expedia joins other major retailers and service providers in the US who have started accepting bitcoin. This group is led by electronics retailer Overstock.com, which reported more than $1.6m in bitcoin sales for the year in May.
At the end of May, pay TV provider DISH Network became the largest company by market cap to accept bitcoin. The firm, which is valued at $27bn and has 14 million subscribers, will begin accepting the cryptocurrency in the third quarter of the year.
Travel image via Shutterstock.