Dell has started accepting payments made in Bitcoin

Still not sure what to do with all your bitcoins? Dell has a solution. The computer-maker is now accepting the cryptocurrency as payment, with company founder and CEO Michael Dell announcing the news himself on Twitter. To promote the news, which Dell calls a pilot program, the company is also offering a 10 percent discount on any Alienware products you buy through its site using bitcoin. The company is working closely with Coinbase, a digital wallet for storing the online currency, and says it set the entire payment system up in just two weeks. It’s a big step for bitcoin, which has grown increasingly popular but still can’t be used for many mainstream purchases. Dell is also an obvious choice, since most bitcoin collectors are probably computer fans as well. A few other companies, including Overstock.com, already accept the new currency, but according to Michael Dell this is biggest to date.

Another well-known company is embracing digital money. On Friday, Dell announced that customers would be able to make purchases on its website using Bitcoin, claiming to become the biggest retailer yet to accept the virtual currency. “We put this together quickly as a result of listening to our customers,” said David Frink, a Dell spokesman. “It’s another way for customers to have a relationship with Dell.” When retailers started accepting Bitcoin, the appeal was largely the currency’s ability to attract new customers with its novelty. But as Bitcoin has become more mainstream, merchants may now be embracing digital money to lower payment processing fees and make purchases easier for already-loyal customers. “Retailers have very low margins, and online especially, and they’re in a constant battle with credit cards and banks to lower those fees,” said Gil Luria, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “Now that they see this avenue for fees to go away, that’s really their big motivation.” To make accepting Bitcoin possible, Dell teamed up with Coinbase, a third-party payment processor that converts customers’ Bitcoins into dollars. Coinbase, which began with $25 million from the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, approached Dell about accepting Bitcoin as a payment option a few months ago, said Adam White, the director of business development and strategy at Coinbase, who worked with Dell on the partnership. Dell reached out to Coinbase two weeks ago about adopting Bitcoin quickly, in time for back-to-school shopping, he said.

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