What do digital payments companies make of Bitcoin? Here at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, a digital money panel featuring PayPal, Stripe and Gumroad gave its thoughts on the currency that has VCs emptying their bank accounts to invest afresh.
Stripe’s John Collison said what stands out most to him about Bitcoin is its accessibility. “Bitcoin is still pretty small in the scheme of things right now but the interesting thing about it is access. No one needs to enable Bitcoins for South Africa, for Pakistan — no one can prevent you from having it. It’s everywhere.
“As we think about new ways to accept payments, there is that desirable aspect to Bitcoin.”
Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia also chipped in with his two cents – suggesting Bitcoin’s biggest impact could be how it inspires others to build products, not least because of its niche appeal.
“A lot of the ideas that it contains are really interesting and will affect the way other people think about building stuff – that might come off of it. But I don’t think it’s big enough for anyone to have any real impact on things,” he said, adding:“ I think it could use a name change. Bitcoin sounds really techie.”
Meanwhile Hill Ferguson from PayPal – the granddaddy of digital payments firms – confirmed the company is keeping an eye on the crypto-currency.
“It’s the perfect currency by design,” he said. “I’m curious to see how governments respond to it and how regulation may impact consumers’ ability to get money in and out. I think it’s a fascinating phenomenon and we are definitely watching it.”
Ferguson also sounded a skeptical note. “What problem is Bitcoin trying to fix? There’s no clear answer.”