Bitcoin Vacation: Expedia Now Accepts Cryptocurrency for Hotel Bookings

Image: A Bitcoin sign
A Bitcoin signMARK BLINCH / Reuters file

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Another big U.S. company is jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon: Travel site Expedia will accept the currency for hotel bookings starting Wednesday.

If all goes well Expedia will eventually expand the program to let users pay with bitcoin for other bookings like flights and cars, Michael Gulmann, Expedia's head of global product, told NBCNews in an interview.

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"Expedia is obviously a travel company, but in many ways we’re also a technology company," Gulmann said. "There's a tech-savvy crowd at the front of [bitcoin] and we want to be there." became the first major U.S. retailer to accept bitcoin in January, and Dish Network announced in May that it will start accepting bitcoin in July. The companies' support of bitcoin comes after a rocky period for the currency -- prices have fluctuated wildly and the major exchange Mt. Gox has dissolved.

For Expedia, beyond the experimentation factor, Gulmann said the company "wants to let our customers pay however they want to pay -- there's not a whole lot to it beyond that."

But the lower payment-processing costs associated with bitcoin payments also add to the appeal, he said. Processing payments from major credit cards can cost two percent to four percent of the transaction.

"For bitcoin, it's a heck of a lot lower," Gulmann said. Expedia will use Coinbase, the major bitcoin payment processor, to handle the transactions.

Expedia has been mulling the move for a while. "A whole lot of passionate engineering folks" at Expedia had suggested the company accept bitcoin, Gulmann said, and the company received requests from customers as well.

Gulmann said he personally has tracked bitcoin's performance "for the last few years," and he's confident in bitcoin's future despite the recent uncertainty in the market.

"As a big company, obviously we watch for what's happening and we look at what the risks are," Gulmann said. "But at the end of the day, I don’t think bitcoin is going anywhere."