Bitcoin Payments Now Usable At Windows, Xbox Live Online Shops

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
One of the largest tech companies in the world has jumped on the bitcoin bandwagon, as Microsoft is now indirectly accepting the virtual currency as a payment method at its Windows and Xbox Live digital marketplaces.
According to Stan Higgins of Coindesk, Microsoft is now allowing US customers to use bitcoin to add money to their accounts as part of a new partnership with a Georgia company called BitPay. Those funds can then be used to purchase content such as apps, games and other media through the Redmond, Washington firm’s PC, mobile and game console stores.
The announcement “adds yet another major tech player to the bitcoin ecosystem,” as Microsoft currently boasts a market cap of over $38 billion and has earned more than $86 billion in annual revenue this year, Higgins said. However, it appears that the computing giant is not directly accepting bitcoin payments at this time, he noted.
In an online help page, Microsoft explains how to use bitcoin to add money to your Microsoft account. Once signed in, select Payment options, then Microsoft account, and finally the “redeem bitcoin” option. Next, select the amount that you want to add and click the next button to review and confirm the transaction within a period of 15 minutes.
PC users can also select “pay with bitcoin” and use their bitcoin wallet to complete the transaction on the same device, and smartphone users can scan a QR code displayed on a page to pay from their mobile wallet app. Most transactions should process instantly, the company said, but customers should wait up to two hours before contacting support. Bitcoin funds cannot be refunded, Microsoft added.
“Microsoft’s integration follows a slow but notable progression of events that suggested it would potentially seek to embrace bitcoin,” said Higgins. A February update to Microsoft’s Bing search engine “allowed users to generate bitcoin price conversions,” while around the same time, co-founder Bill Gates said that his nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “was interested in digital payments technology in general,” he added.
Neither Microsoft nor BitPay have formally announced their partnership, according to TechCrunch reporter Jon Russell, and neither company responded to the website’s request for information. Matthew Sparkes, Deputy Head of Technology at The Telegraph, said that the news caused the value of a single bitcoin to increase from approximately $20 to $360 per unit overnight.
While the announcement “doesn’t directly correlate to its recent (and somewhat surprising) moves to make its core services like Office available on rival platforms… but the fact that it is ready to embrace an upcoming technology before many of its rivals is a sign that Microsoft’s ethos may have modernized,” Russell noted.
“Microsoft now joins other tech players like Dell, which has gone all-in on Bitcoin and accepts it for most products and services,” added Steve Dent of Engadget. “PayPal has a deal with Coinbase to help online stores accept Bitcoins, though you still can’t add them to your digital wallet. So far Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of the e-commerce world, has strongly resisted the digital currency, however.”
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