Dell Becomes Largest Company to Accept Bitcoin

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Computer giant Dell announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin as payment, making the Texas-based company the largest business to accept the virtual currency.

Dell, which reported $56.9 billion in revenue for 2013 and employs more than 100,000 people, announced the decision to begin accepting bitcoin via a tweet by company founder Michael Dell.

Dell customers can begin using bitcoin as payment immediately, and the company is offering a discount for Alienware-brand computer hardware if payments are made in bitcoin. The company is partnering with bitcoin-payment-processing company Coinbase, which works with tens of thousands of merchants in accepting and using bitcoin.

In accepting the virtual currency, Dell joins a number of large companies and merchants, including DISH Network, Expedia.com and payment processor Square.

That growing adoption rate isn’t an accident, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said. The bitcoin-payment processor set an internal goal for 2014 to partner with at least 10 retailers with at least $1 billion in revenue, and Dell marks the seventh such company to do so.

Although the vast majority of bitcoin trading comes from users treating it more like a speculative stock or investment, Armstrong said merchant-customer transactions have doubled since the start of 2014.

Although several early bitcoin adopters were more interested in gaining cheap publicity, Armstrong said that more merchants are realizing the cost-savings potential of accepting bitcoin, which usually comes with fewer fees than credit cards.

“It’s increasingly becoming about just cost savings, and that’s becoming a more sustainable long-term advantage for bitcoin,” he said.

Coinbase has about 1.5 million customer accounts, and processes around $30,000 in bitcoin transactions a day.