Travel site Expedia will begin accepting the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin from customers looking to book hotel rooms, the company announced Wednesday. It is the first major travel site to do so. It’s also yet another step in Bitcoin’s slow march into the mainstream. As is often the case when a major retailer begins accepting Bitcoin, the decision happened not through Expedia wanting to fill its own wallet with the futuristic currency, but through a corporate partnership. Coinbase, one of the world’s largest Bitcoin transaction platforms, will handle payments on Expedia’s behalf and convert them to US dollars.
Yet another company has decided it’s itching to take your bitcoins. Expedia, the travel-booking company based in Bellvue, Wash., says that customers will now be able to spend their hard-earned cryptocurrency on hotel stays. Starting today, users who choose to pay in Bitcoin will see a new payment option when they’re checking out online. Selecting the option will bring them to a separate Web site where they’ll authorize the transaction from their own Bitcoin wallet. Then customers will be redirected back to Expedia’s site for confirmation. The feature will be limited to hotel reservations for now, company officials said. Expedia’s foray into virtual currencies follows an uptick in customer requests for Bitcoin support, according to Michael Gulmann, the company’s vice president of global product. “It came down to the right timing — both for Bitcoin as a currency, and for Expedia in our lifecycle,” said Gulmann in an interview. The dead-simple process will probably help drive Bitcoin even further into the mainstream, even as it’s enjoyed a tumultuous year in the public eye. Expedia isn’t the only major company to start supporting virtual currencies of late; last month, the satellite TV giant Dish Network said it was doing the same.