Last February, with the MtGox upheaval, Bitcoin seemed to have reached the end of the line in terms of its credibility. Then in June there was the threat from the miners group Ghash.io, that came close to conquering more than half of the entire market share. But Bitcoin, today, seems to have come out of it reinforced by this criticism and its influence is increasing day by day, getting ever closer to becoming something that can be used by the average person. The recent launch of Coinbase (money exchange and payment platform) in Europe, Italy included, is a further step in this direction: it will be much easier for consumers to enter into possession of the cryptocurrency thanks to the linking of its bitcoin wallet service to the euro payment system.
Users can receive and send money from a bitcoin account more easily within the 13 EU countries. As well, the entrance of Coinbase should make using bitcoin much easier for merchants as well, thus increasing the diffusion of this payment method. The company from San Francisco is offering, on the one hand a wallet service for consumers, that is, a bitcoin account, just as Blockchain does; on the other hand it offers services for merchants who accept bitcoin payments, like BitPay. On the consumer side the company has already registered 1.6 million wallets while there are 36,000 registered merchant accounts that, thanks to Coinbase, can receive payments that are changed into euros in real time. Europe has fallen behind in adopting the use of this electronic money and decentralized in respect to the U.S. but it is still considered a decidedly interesting market. Through BitPay, Coinbase’s competition that was launched some time ago in Europe, 28 million euros in bitcoin payments have been processed in the past year alone; in 2013 the total reached 1.4 million.
These sums are destined to benefit from another novelty that will arrive within the next few days: the official opening of the digital payment colossal, PayPal, to bitcoin. It will occur through Braintree, bought last year by the group that owns eBay, which allows developers to easily integrate payments via PayPal into their apps and websites. And it is precisely Braintree that initiated support for bitcoin payments signing a partnership agreement with Coinbase.
Soon, therefore, we will be able to pay in bitcoin for a ride on Uber or a house on Airbnb, a platform that is contractually linked with PayPal. Above all, this opening up by PayPal, as was noted by The Financial Times, will notably increase trust in this money form that many still consider unreliable and even “dangerous”. But, if on the one hand it is true that bitcoins are still a target for cybercriminals (with attacks on the virtual money tripling in the past year), on the other hand it is also true that, regardless of this, online shops and shops that accept bitcoin payments in the physical world are increasing. Even Expedia, one of the largest portals for online travel reservations, has opened up to the cryptocurrency for hotel payments. The road to its affirmation is still long, but the speed with which it is moving towards this shows no sign of decreasing.