An online alternative to real, physical money, bitcoin has now been accepted by Microsoft as a form of payment.
Thanks to new additions in technology – such as faster Internet speeds and shopping apps on mobile devices – more of us are now shopping online than ever before. But this also means that payments have changed too as we are no longer so reliant on paper coins and money.
Often, we make use of Internet banking or PayPal to make online payments even easier, but cryptocurrencies have also been introduced. Cryptocurrencies are currencies that use cryptography (the practice and study of secure communications) to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new units.
The most popular of these by far is bitcoin. And, as the cryptocurrency increases in popularity, Microsoft is the next retailer to accept is as a form of payment.
How this works is that US-based customers can add money to their accounts via bitcoin. This money can then be used to purchase games from Xbox Live, apps or videos (such as TV and movies).
Rules for using bitcoin to add money to accounts is restricted to $1000 a day and up to $5000 overall, there are also no refunds for their bitcoins once you’ve added them to your account. Furthermore, Microsoft has explained other limitations to bitcoin usage:
“You can only use bitcoin to add money to your Microsoft account and then purchase digital goods at select Microsoft online stores. You can’t use bitcoin to purchase Microsoft products and services directly at this time.”
With this said, there is potential for a larger scale roll out in the future. Eric Lockard, corporate vice president of Universal Store at Microsoft, suggested in a blog post that this is very much just the beginning:
“The use of digital currencies such as bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts. We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend.”
So it’s early days yet but we’ll keep you posted once we know more.
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