Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency whose supporters like to think of it as anything but ordinary, may have just gained its best chance at widespread acceptance -- by being just one of the boys.
Braintree, eBay's mobile-friendly payments-processing subsidiary, said on Thursday (Jan. 22) that it has launched a private beta test to let any U.S. merchant accept bitcoin. The test comes by way of Braintree's deal last fall with Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase. Now that Braintree has integrated its connection with Coinbase, it's ready to try integrating its own point-of-sale customers.
That will come by way of a patch to Braintree's latest payments platform, v.zero. That will add Coinbase's Bitcoin processing to a list of payment options that includes credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB and Diners Club, along with PayPal (with its 162 million active users worldwide), Venmo (which processed more $900M in mobile payment just in the last three months of 2014) and Apple Pay, with 130 currencies supported.
Coinbase itself supports 38,000 merchants and 2.2 million bitcoin wallets.
Braintree announced the v.zero software development kit (SDK) last July as a more flexible way of implementing the company's processing services. The SDK allowed automatic shopping-cart integration with PayPal among other payment types, and also features a flexible user interface that Braintree says can be tweaked to fit merchants' needs.
Braintree also claims its v.zero shopping cart checkout is especially easy to integrate. Dropping in as few as 10 lines of code will give retailers access to Braintree’s new shopping cart. GitHub, Jane.com, ParkWhiz, and Chargify are among the companies already using the v.zero SDK, according to VentureBeat.
In theory, adding just a few lines of code and clicking a button should let Braintree merchants who are already using v.zero accept Bitcoin within minutes. In practice? Well, that's why it's a test, and one that requires merchants to sign up and be vetted by Braintree to participate.