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EBay’s Braintree Unit Said to Be in Talks to Use Bitcoin

EBay Inc.’s Braintree unit, one of its electronic-payments businesses, is exploring ways to support bitcoin payments, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.

Braintree, which works with online and mobile-only startups so that people can easily pay for goods and services, has held discussions with bitcoin payment-service provider Coinbase Inc., said the person, who asked not to be identified because talks are ongoing and an agreement hasn’t been signed. The Wall Street Journal reported the negotiations Aug. 14.

“We do believe that bitcoin will play an important role in payments in the future but we have nothing to announce,” Jennifer Hakes, a spokeswoman for San Jose, California-based EBay, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. John O’Brien, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Coinbase, declined to comment.

EBay, which also operates the PayPal payments provider, would join other merchants in accepting bitcoin, a digital currency that has started to enter the mainstream in 2013. Dell Inc. began accepting bitcoins for computers in July. Dish Networks Corp., Inc. and Expedia Inc. also accept the virtual currency. In total, about 63,000 businesses handle bitcoins, and users have set up more than 5 million digital wallets to keep their holdings, according to CoinDesk, a website tracking the digital money’s use.

Braintree provides payment capabilities on websites and in mobile apps such as mobile car-booking service Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc., the short-term home rental service for travelers. EBay acquired Braintree for $800 million in cash last year to expand its mobile-transactions business.

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