Bitcoin has more potential to revolutionize commerce than near-field communication (NFC) technology does, PayPal president David Marcus said at the LeWeb conference in Paris today.
Marcus stressed he is a big fan of bitcoin and has a personal stash of the digital currency, but said the majority of people don't currently understand what bitcoins actually are, CNET reports.
"People are confused. They think because it's called cryptocurrency it's a currency. I don't think it is a currency. It's a store of value, a distributed ledger," he said.
Bearing all of this in mind, Marcus said he's not yet ready to let people link their bitcoin wallets with their PayPal accounts. He added:
"Whenever the regulatory framework is clearer, and the volatility comes down, then we'll consider it."
While Marcus is largely positive about bitcoin, he doesn't have many kind words to say about NFC, calling it "technology for the sake of technology".
"Instead swiping or using a PIN pad, they're tapping. How is that really better? How is that changing your life? People don't want that," he said.
Marcus wants payments to become more seamless. He sees a future where consumers won't have to visit a checkout to pay for their goods, they will use wireless technology to pay from wherever they are in a store.
"Today a merchant has Internet connectivity at the point-of-sale terminal. All the consumers have phones with wireless networks. Why do you need to be at a place in a store to make a payment?" he said.
Marcus concluded that, over the coming years, retail chains really have some work to do to reinvent themselves and their payment systems.
Just last month, eBay president John Donahoe told the Financial Times that PayPal could, one day, incorporate bitcoin. He also stated that digital currency is going to become a “very powerful thing”.
The e-commerce group is keeping its eye on bitcoin and, in the meantime, it's focus is on incorporating reward points from retailer loyalty schemes with its PayPal wallet.