updated 07:27 pm EDT, Wed June 11, 2014
Coinbase partnership allows travel booking company to accept online currency
Travel reservation company Expedia has jumped aboard the Bitcoin train to allow travelers to book their hotel stays with the virtual currency. Teaming up with Coinbase, Expedia will now show Bitcoins as a payment option up against other payment forms, such as credit cards and PayPal. Expedia joins the likes of Overstock.com and Dish Network in allowing their customers to pay with the Internet currency.
"We're continually looking at ways consumers want to pay for their travel," said Expedia Global Product Vice President Michael Gulmann. "Bitcoin is a great example of how Expedia is investing early in an array of payment options to give our customers and partners more choice in the ways they interact with us."
Expedia announced the move into a limited market today, using hotels as a way to test the waters for interest. During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gulmann said that the company wanted to start at a "small, reasonable place" to test out the system. If customers support it, and it is possible for Expedia to expand, the company will start looking at taking Bitcoins for other types of reservations.
By partnering with Coinbase to handle the cryptocurrency transactions, Expedia is limiting their risk and investment. Coinbase will turn the Bitcoin transaction into cash immediately, locking in the currency value instead of risking a devaluation. When paying with Bitcoin on Expedia, the transaction will shift to Coinbase, where customers will be able to pay from their online wallets. Once payment is completed at Coinbase, customers will be redirected to Expedia to complete the reservation.
Since Expedia won't hold onto the digital currency, nor process it, the majority of the risk is on Coinbase. However, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam says they are happy to partner with another company that is expanding their payment horizons, and "welcome them into the growing community of forward-thinking companies that have opened their businesses to accept Bitcoin payments."