Payments firm Braintree, a subsidiary of eBay and PayPal, is "in talks" with Coinbase and several other processing companies on the possibility of accepting bitcoin, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Braintree provides payments software for a number of popular mobile applications including Uber, Airbnb, and GitHub. The company, which was acquired by PayPal for $800m in December last year, was processing up to $12bn in payments annually at the time – $4bn of that via mobile apps.
No matter which bitcoin processor Braintree may choose, accepting digital currency would represent another significant step in bitcoin's lifecycle.
"People familiar with the matter" stressed that any deal would not include either eBay or PayPal accepting bitcoin for now, though senior executives including eBay CEO John Donahoe have at times expressed an interest in ways to accept digital currencies, even describing it as "inevitable".
Anyone who doubted the seriousness of those comments in the media may be swayed if a partner business as close as Braintree began accepting bitcoin, demonstrating its utility on a slightly smaller scale than the two online giants. It could also represent a foot in the door for future acceptance.
Partners in disruption
Both Uber and Airbnb have much in common with bitcoin. The startups have been lauded by supporters in the technology world for their disruption of the taxi and hotel industry, though they have also encountered stiff opposition from established participants in those segments.
Thanks to its formal partnership with PayPal, also an eBay subsiduary, Braintree now serves 40 countries and 130 different currencies.
It provides a solution for mobile based and other online businesses to accept credit card payments directly from their apps and sites, supplying both the payment processor and merchant account in one package.