eBay to allow Bitcoin sales in 'virtual currency' category

After PayPal President David Marcus tweeted "We're believers in BTC," eBay's US and UK branches say they will let people sell digital currencies in the classified ads sections of the sites.

PayPal President David Marcus. Stephen Shankland/CNET

It seemed like it was only a matter of time before e-commerce giant eBay and its payment platform PayPal addressed the sale and use of Bitcoin on its sites. And, despite concern from government regulators , it appears the company believes in virtual currencies -- so much so, that it will soon start allowing their sale on its US and UK sites.

Last week, PayPal President David Marcus tweeted "To clarify: we have no policies against using PayPal to sell Bitcoin mining rigs. We don't support any currency txn whether fiat or BTC... for a host of regulatory issues. But we treat BTC and any FX txn the same way. We're believers in BTC though."

Then, a couple of days later, eBay UK sent an e-mail to one of its merchants that was published on Reddit, which said the company plans to open a "Virtual Currency" category for the sale of Bitcoin and other digital currencies on the UK site.

Please know that per our recent policy update, Virtual Currency (i.e. Bitcoin and Litecoin), whether digitally or physically delivered, cannot be listed in Auction-style or Buy-It-Now listing formats. eBay is opening a Virtual Currency category to allow the sale of virtual currency in Classified Ads format on February 10, 2014. We request that you do not list these items until that date. Please be informed that repeated breach of the policy may further jeopardize your account status. To avoid any inconvenience in future, we'd appreciated it if you go through our help pages or contact us before listing any such items.

While eBay US and UK will start allowing Bitcoin to be sold in its classified ads format, it won't yet let users sell the currency in the auction or buy-it-now formats. Additionally, all transactions will be required to happen outside of eBay. A eBay UK spokesman told CNET that virtual currency sales will only be allowed on eBay US and eBay UK for now; it's unclear if the policy will spread to other countries where eBay operates.

"To promote a trustworthy marketplace and ensure compliance with applicable regulations, eBay is updating its Currency Policy," eBay UK spokesman Steve Heywood told CNET in an e-mail. "The updated policy clarifies that listings for Bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies must be listed in the Virtual Currency Category in the Classified Ad format. This applies to both the US (effective immediately) and the UK (effective 10 February)."

Marcus told CNET in an interview last month , "I really like Bitcoin. I own bitcoins." But, he also said he's not yet ready to let people link their Bitcoin wallets with their PayPal accounts. "Whenever the regulatory framework is clearer, and the volatility comes down, then we'll consider it," he said.

Bitcoin has proven that it can do well as a traded currency. It's been around since 2009, but didn't really get going until 2011 when it was worth $2 per coin. By 2013, the currency had climbed to $20 per coin, and then jumped to $266 last April. Within the past couple of months, it had another price jump and is now hovering around $1,000.

While eBay appears to be opening its doors to virtual currency, China's largest e-commerce site Alibaba shut the door on Bitcoin earlier this month. The company announced that the sale of Bitcoins on its Web site is now banned. While the majority of site's sales are made via Taobao's Alipay system, a handful of merchants were accepting Bitcoin payments or selling the digital currency.

[Via CoinDesk]

Updated January 21 at 11:05 a.m. PT to clarify that virtual currency can be sold on both the US and UK eBay sites and to add comment from eBay UK spokesman Steve Heywood.

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About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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