Dug Campbell

Size Does Matter: Microsoft Gets Some Coins

So there’s only really one story today for me – and no surprises for guessing what that might be…

I woke up to read that Microsoft were now accepting Bitcoin. That’s huge. And a bit out of the blue to say the least.

I couldn’t help but think back to May 2014 when a similar early morning glance at the headlines on my mobile told me that 50 miles away, CeX in Glasgow had suddenly not only unveiled a brand new Lamassu Bitcoin ATM in the store but had chosen not just to promote but to enforce a Bitcoin-only payment option for all customers for a three day period. OK, a *slightly* different scale but still.

Kudos to BitPay for delivering this. Coinbase were clearly pulling ahead in terms of integrations with billion-dollar business so it’s good to see the Atlanta team strike big. The result benefits everyone in the Bitcoin ecosystem – proving that when you’re in such a fast-growing marketplace, competition really is irrelevant. There’s plenty of pie to go around for everyone.

Now as you’ll see when you dig into the details, this isn’t a full integration – yet. They’re letting people use Bitcoin to add funds to Microsoft accounts that can then be spent on various Microsoft services  (such as software, Xbox games, apps for Windows phones). But the importance of this announcement cannot be understated for a number of reasons.

There’s a natural value in using Bitcoin to fund Skype credit and to potentially address the in-game microtransaction payment opportunity that exists via the Xbox. But fundamentally – and most importantly – this is acceptance by a company that the vast majority of people are aware of. Yes, Overstock and Dish are big business (in the US), Dell is well-known (but not to my mum) and Expedia has a strong brand (if you book your own online travel). But I’d hazard a guess that everyone who actively uses a computer today (in the West at least) has – at the very least – heard of Microsoft.

Of course, Microsoft were hardly attracting positive commentary about the pace of their innovation or general strategy under Steve Ballmer’s stewardship. From here, it’s hard to tell whether this move is simply a case of Ballmer’s replacement Satya Nadella being a Bitcoin fan (as has been claimed) or simply a change of direction approach within the business to become more receptive to innovation following a change in leadership.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because of this:-

It’s been a big 2014. Roll on 2015.