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CEO of Expedia, Inc. Khosrowshahi attends Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley
Reuters/Jim Urquhart
Experimental payments.

On Dara Khosrowshahi’s watch, Expedia was one of the first major merchants to accept bitcoin

Joon Ian Wong
By Joon Ian Wong

Technology Reporter

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Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new CEO, is lauded as an inspired choice because he turned around travel-bookings platform Expedia during his 12-year tenure. Expedia showed an adventurous streak on Khosrowshahi’s watch, becoming one of the first major merchants to accept bitcoin as a form of payment, back in 2014.

When Expedia announced it would take bitcoin for hotel bookings in June 2014, it was the biggest business at the time to accept a cryptocurrency as a form of payment. It was a major stamp of legitimacy for the fledging cryptocurrency, which then had a market value of around $7.8 billion, or about a tenth of its size today.

After Expedia announced its move, major brands like Microsoft and Dell followed. The travel platform said at the time it was “investing early” in an array of payment options for its customers. An executive who oversaw the feature, Michael Gulmann, later told trade publication CoinDesk that the volume of bitcoin transactions on the site exceeded expectations.

Another Expedia executive involved in the payments option, Connie Chung, told CoinDesk a year after the launch that bitcoin payments would remain an option for as long as customers demanded it, and that such “low friction” payment methods boosted bookings on the platform. Fittingly, in retrospect, she gave the example of Uber as a platform that used low-friction payments to increase bookings.

Rumors that the ride-sharing platform would adopt bitcoin payments have long circulated in the cryptocurrency world—now, with Khosrowshahi’s appointment, it might be one step closer to reality. Of course, he has plenty of more pressing problems to solve before he contemplates adding cryptocurrencies to car bookings.

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