Microsoft to accept Bitcoin

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Microsoft is now accepting the digital currency bitcoin.

Bitcoin, a software-based online payment system first introduced in 2009, will now be accepted as “a payment option to buy apps, games and other digital content from Windows, Window Phone, Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video Stores,” according to the Microsoft payment and billing policy.

This is a major development in world currency – and the political economy more generally – and it will be interesting to see how and when Apple responds to this news.

Bitcoin has often appealed to tech-savvy libertarians because it currently exists outside of the institutional banking system and indeed outside of the control of governments. The trend of using a software-based online currency is gaining traction around the world, including in Australia.

“The use of digital currencies such as bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts,” said Eric Lockard, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Universal Store at Microsoft. “We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be a front edge of this market,” he continued.

Indeed, “What is Bitcoin” was Google’s 4th most typed “What is…” search in 2014. However, despite Microsoft joining a handful of other companies, including PayPal, in accepting bitcoins as payment, the online currency still has a long way to go.

Earlier in the year, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) launched an investigation into the role of digital currencies in crime. As a result, all banking institutions put a halt to dealing with businesses who offer bitcoin as tender. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) went further in declaring that bitcoin is not a currency at all, rather an “asset”.

This “asset”, although gaining in popularly, has also had to deal with a falling price, which is now valued as lower than both the Russian Ruble and the Ukrainian Hyrvnia.