Seems like a lot of big name companies are becoming bitcoin-friendly recently. Dish Network began accepting bitcoin about two weeks ago; Apple reversed its ban on bitcoin apps; and now, one of the biggest online travel sites - Expedia, has announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings.
Why is Expedia Accepting Bitcoin?
According to Expedia's vice president - Michael Gulmann, "This is one of those ideas that seemed to have sprung from three different places all at once," and "if we’re solving a customer need then we’re going to [accept bitcoin]". The company had been receiving requests from customers to integrate bitcoin payments for some time while Expedia's engineers and business developers were also considering the move. However, what made Expedia actually act on the idea? There could be many reasons why the travel agency has decided to accept bitcoin payments. Perhaps Expedia is following in the footsteps of the less popular travel site CheapAir.com, which started allowing users to book hotels with BTC back in November 2013. It's also possible that Dish Network's recent announcement helped to significantly legitimise bitcoin as a currency. Regardless of the company's rationale, this should come as huge news to bitcoiners. More and more companies are accepting BTC and bringing the currency to mainstream adoption.
It's Still an Experiment
However, it's important to note that Expedia is only enabling bitcoin payments for hotel bookings at this time, because, “We want to start at a reasonable, small place". The company is not yet ready to offer bitcoin payments for all its services, and is currently testing the system with hotels. Like Dish Network, Expedia is using Coinbase as its payment processor with the default settings. This means that Coinbase will take customers' bitcoins, convert them to U.S. dollars, and then deposit them in Expedia's bank account. The travel agency won't actually hold any of the BTC. While this may disappoint some bitcoiners, Gulmann states that this is not "a statement on bitcoin, pro or con". Since Expedia is treating this as an experiment, the company feels that it would be safer to convert to fiat given bitcoin's volatility.
The Community's Reaction
Overall, the Bitcoin community is celebrating Expedia's announcement. To quote some bitcoiners:
"Yet another big company accepting Bitcoin. This is looking good."
"HOLY SHIT EXPEDIA???? Finally a company I use all the fking time!!111 Yess finally I can use bitcoin!!"
"First they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then they ask if you'd like a room with a jacuzzi."
Others hope that Expedia's announcement will place pressure on competitors like Priceline. Expedia is a huge company with a market cap of 9.75B. Originally founded as a division of Microsoft, Expedia is now one of the largest travel agencies in the world. With major corporations like Expedia and Dish Network integrating bitcoin payments, there is little doubt amongst the community that bitcoin is on its way to the moon.