Microsoft Now Accepts Bitcoin for Digital Purchases (U.S. Only)

In a surprise move, Microsoft has quietly started accepting Bitcoin as a way to add funds to your account which can be used to purchase digital content like apps, movies, TV shows, games, etc. from Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox Games, Xbox Music and Xbox Video stores.

In a FAQ on the Microsoft billing site, one can see how Bitcoin can be used to add money to your Microsoft account:

To add money to your Microsoft account with Bitcoin:

  1. Sign in to Microsoft account – Billing with your Microsoft account
  2. Select Payment options > Microsoft account > redeem bitcoin
  3. Select the amount you want to add, then click Next
  4. Review the amount of Bitcoin needed and use your digital wallet to complete the transaction within 15 minutes:
    • On your computer – select Pay with Bitcoin and then pay from your Bitcoin wallet on the same device.
    • On your smartphone – scan the QR code displayed on the page to pay from your mobile wallet app.
    • If your wallet is on another device, you can copy the receiving address and BTC amount to the wallet on your device or the Web and then make your purchase.


Of course, this feature has caveats besides the fact that this form of payment is supported only in the United States version of the various stores:

  • Bitcoin funding is non-refundable.
  • While the Bitcoin-funded account can be used to purchase digital goods, it cannot be used to purchase Microsoft products and services directly.

This move is another big endorsement for Bitcoin. Per Coindesk, this funding option is enabled by the integration between Microsoft and BitPay, a Georgia-based Bitcoin processor.

Are you excited about this move? Will you be funding your Microsoft account with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.


Keep Tabs on Your Online Spending with SlowPal

PayPal might not be the most loved online payment processor, but it’s still the biggest. And that means that if you buy a lot of stuff online, it’s kind of hard to avoid.

One of the many pain points of PayPal is its transaction log. PayPal’s transaction reporting system is better than my bank’s, but that’s not saying much. Its sluggishness coupled with the lack of meaningful filters makes it a major annoyance for frequent PayPal users. This is where a new web service called SlowPal comes in.

SlowPal pitches itself as a tool to free your PayPal account from reporting hell. It indexes your PayPal transaction logs and presents them in a clean and smart interface. It supports filtering based on transaction types (Authorization, Currency Conversion, Donation, Payment, Refund etc.), transaction status, and currency, in addition to date. Perhaps most crucially, SlowPal makes your transaction log completely searchable.


SlowPal might not be useful to all customers, since anyone but heavy PayPal users are unlikely to feel the need to analyze their PayPal spending in detail. However, it’s going to be a boon for merchants who typically process hundreds and thousands of transactions every day and have a pressing need to keep an eye on their transaction logs.

Right now SlowPal’s biggest shortcoming is that it doesn’t feature any graphical analysis. Since, its focus is on reporting, graphs and trend reports are two features that should be no brainers. Nevertheless, SlowPal is still a large improvement over PayPal’s transaction log. PayPal users will no longer have to take the trouble of manually exporting logs into Excel to perform the simplest of analysis.

[ Visit SlowPal ]

eBay Q3 2012 Earnings: Revenue Jumps 15%, Profit Up 22%

eBay reported its earnings for Q3 2012, with its revenue increasing 15% to $3.4 billion year-over-year. Its net income was up to $597 million, up 22% year-over-year. Its core Marketplaces product and PayPal contributed to most of the growth.

John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay, said:

“We had a great third quarter across our company, with Marketplaces and PayPal accelerating customer growth. Mobile continues to be a game changer for us, and we continue to be a clear leader in mobile commerce and payments. With our strong portfolio and global reach, we are consistently demonstrating our capabilities to help consumers shop anytime, anywhere. And we are enabling retailers of all sizes to compete in a rapidly evolving, multichannel commerce environment.”

PayPal saw its user base expand to 117.4 million active registered accounts, up 14% year-over-year. Revenue from PayPal increased 23% while the total payment volume grew 20% to $35.2 billion. PayPal continues to focus on mobile to drive most of its growth and also gained traction with PayPal Here, its competitor to Square.

In Marketplaces, the gross merchandise value increased 11% to $16 billion, while the revenue increased 9%, driven primarily by growth in the US and Asia Pacific. eBay’s cash and cash equivalents increased to $7.3 billion in the last quarter.

eBay is undergoing a significant change, as it recently introduced a new redesign, and also launched a new marketing campaign. PayPal is its prime focus now, led by David Marcus, who is now focusing on the product and customers to grow the dominant online payments service.

via eBay – SEC

Braintree Raises $35 Million to Dominate Online Payments

Braintree, one of the most popular online payment gateways for the web and mobile, has raised $35 million in another round of funding led by New Enterprise Associates, according to a report by Techcrunch. This deal brings its total funding up to almost $70 million.

Braintree competes primarily with the likes of PayPal, providing a merchant account and payment gateway for web and mobile support. It has a massive customer base which includes biggies like Rovio, Uber, OpenTable, Airbnb, Heroku, Engine Yard, Shopify etc. It has seen its transaction volumes increase to $5 billion in total payments in the last year and has around 3,000 merchants signed up for its payment offerings. It supports more than 30 countries and 130 different currencies.

While PayPal is ideal for consumers, Braintree is targeted more towards small businesses, startups and enterprises. After acquiring Venmo, they are now also going after the consumer market, specifically after small developers.

Mobile Payments are expected to be huge in the next couple of years, and Braintree will compete with PayPal and Square in that space. While PayPal is backed by eBay, Square recently raised $200 million. It’s going to be an interesting war.

via Techcrunch

Square Raises $200 Million at $3.25 Billion Valuation

Square was rumored to be working on its fourth round of funding since months now, at an estimated valuation of $4 billion. However, the disastrous Facebook IPO changed the fundraising market, and we didn’t hear much about that until now. Apparently, Square has announced its fourth round of funding which values it at $3.25 billion, impressive by any standard.

Square has raised $200 million in its Series D round, from investors like Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management, and Starbucks Coffee Company. It has grown significantly in the past year, and now has a run rate of nearly $8 billion in payments annually. It has grown to nearly 400 employees, and will continue to add more to fuel its expansion.

This latest round brings its total funds raised to around $340 million. It competes primarily with Verifone and PayPal.

They issued a press release announcing the same:

“Square (, the company revolutionizing commerce, announced today that it has closed its Series D financing round. Investors participating in the round include Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management, and Starbucks Coffee Company.

One year ago, Square had approximately 150 employees and processed over $1 billion in payments on an annualized basis. Today, Square has over 400 employees and is processing over $8 billion in payments on an annualized basis.

Square’s growing revenue and workforce precedes the company’s plans for international expansion later this year.”

via Techcrunch

PayPal Vs. Square Gets Serious with Paypal-Discover Partnership

Recently, PayPal has making bold new moves to take its business to the next level. This drive of ambition has come after eight years of PayPal’s online business, and it has comes only after PayPal saw how Square skyrocketed up in this sector of offline and mobile payments, a field that PayPal never took up.

PaypalHowever, the last one year has been an eye-opener for PayPal and it has started taking Square and its style of business seriously. PayPal started by announcing a deal with McDonald’s and acquiring Square, on the other hand, grabbed a major deal with Starbucks. Grab your popcorn, because this is going to turn into an intense race for supremacy in the field of offline and mobile payments. PayPal has recently announced another deal with Discover, which does not restrict it to a few merchant establishments anymore.

This deal with discover will put PayPal miles ahead of Square in this race, with offline PayPal payments being accepted at more than seven million merchant establishments. Trying to keep pace with this improvement, PayPal’s VP of Retail Services says,

The whole industry has been looking for a landmark that says that all of this is really happening. This is an important deal for us, because it gets us to over seven million locations seamlessly.

PayPal boasts of over 50 million users, and Discover has a network spread across the entire US. This marriage will make for the largest mobile payment network spread across the US. The deal with Discover will go operational in April next year, and it is time for Square to make its big move.

PayPal Enters the Race for Offline Payments at Stores

PayPal is the most popular way to transfer funds online. Surely, there are numerous reasons to hate PayPal, though that does not make it any less of a contender in the digital payment space. However, online payment is not the only place where a company like PayPal can do business. Perhaps on realizing this after eight years of business, PayPal is trying to compete with mobile-payment startup Square, which has grown to become extremely popular in a year because of its better service. Square lets users pay for purchases with their mobile phones.

PayPal revealed its ambitious plans for its payment business around September last year, and it also announced that it would test offline payment plan with 20 merchants.

Just two days ago, PayPal acquired, which was another player in the mobile payment segment. However, it made a giant leap in its tests with offline payments, when it tied up with McDonald’s outlets in France. Square, on the other hand, is tied up with Starbucks for carrying out its tests. With this move, Square and PayPal are competing head on for supremacy in the mobile payment field. PayPal has also signed deals with Home Depot and Office Depot for mobile payments.

PayPal’s test lets users pay with a mobile app, and then collect their food from a queue dedicated to this test. This self-service for payment can shave off waiting times and bring profit for McDonald’s or any merchant out there, and bring profits for a supporting platform like Square or PayPal.

eBay Reports Q2 2012 Earnings; PayPal Shines Bright

It’s earnings season again, and eBay has reported its earnings for the second quarter of 2012. Its revenue for Q2 2012 increased to $3.4 billion, up 23% year-over-year. Its net income growth was a bit lower at around 16% year-over-year, primarily due to the impact of increased capital investments and acquisitions.

eBay’s President and CEO, John Donahoe said:

“We delivered a great second quarter, driven by eBay Marketplaces’ best performance in years, strong growth at PayPal and strong same-store-sales growth for GSI’s large retail customers. Our entire company is strong, but we’re particularly pleased with eBay Marketplaces, which delivered its strongest organic growth in gross merchandise volume, excluding vehicles, since 2006. And mobile continues to be a game changer. We now expect eBay and PayPal mobile to each transact $10 billion in volume in 2012 — that’s more than double 2011, a staggering surge in mobile shopping and payments on devices that did not exist just a few years ago. Retail is at an inflection point, and we are helping to reshape how people around the world shop and pay.”

While eBay’s Marketplaces business continued to show impressive growth, PayPal was the business that grabbed the limelight. It ended the quarter with nearly 113.2 million active registered accounts, and continues to be the leader in the online payments space, which is expected to explode in the coming years.

eBay is working aggressively to fend off startups like Stripe, Square and others who are trying to disrupt the payments space. PayPal saw its total payments volume increase 20% to $34.5 billion. Its mobile payments volume has been growing rapidly. With PayPal Here, and PayPal is targeting retailers and merchants primarily in the U.S. and will soon target them across the globe. This week, it also acquired, which should help it bolster its point-of-sale offerings like PayPal Here.

PayPal could easily become its largest business in terms of net revenue in the coming years, considering the tremendous rate it has been growing at.

eBay ended the quarter with nearly $4 billion in cash and cash equivalents. All in all, a pretty good quarter.

via eBay – SEC

PayPal Acquires to Take on Square

PayPal, one of the fastest growing startups in the world, turned into a lumbering giant after eBay acquired it in 2002. Though it still processes billions of dollars in online payments across the globe, it risks being upended by startups like Stripe, Square and others which are offering better technology as well as better service than PayPal. PayPal has been trying to play catchup in the last couple of years, and its latest acquisition – – may help it increase its market share in mobile payments.

It announced that it has acquired earlier today. is a startup which enables developers to capture credit card information using a smartphone’s camera. PayPal was using its service to power PayPal Here, its competitor to Square.

It will presumably use’s technology and team to build better mobile payment solutions, and grab a bigger piece of the rapidly expanding mobile payments pie.

It will also keep the current technology available for use to developers. By joining PayPal, the team gets scale, while the former gets talent and a better shot at retaining its place as the market leader in mobile and online payments.

The terms of the acquisition haven’t been disclosed, but the amount is likely to be small.

via PayPal Blog

Nokia Provides More Evidence of Being the “real” Windows Phone Maker

Nokia Lumia 900

On May 8, at the CTIA Wireless 2012 show in New Orleans, Nokia announced that they are partnering with a bunch of top-tier brands to bring their various apps and games to Windows Phone, with a lot of those apps and games being exclusive to Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phones.

Some of the highlights from their press release:

PGA Tour (exclusive to Lumia for 12 months)

In addition to live tournament scoring, highlights and player information, the app provides interactive, augmented coverage of select events and holes, showing each player’s exact position and scoring information. This allows fans to “get inside the ropes” and follow all players competing on the PGA TOUR.

ESPN (exclusive to Lumia until May 2013)

This app already exists on the Lumia devices, and is in addition to the ESPN ScoreCenter app that is available to all Windows Phones. The Lumia app will see some functionality updates and in addition, the ESPN Fantasy Football app (another Lumia exclusive) will be made available later in the Fall to align with the NFL season.


After a back-and-forth on whether they are going to build Angry Birds Space for Windows Phone or not, Rovio is now building a dedicated design and development team to create games for Lumia and other Windows Phone devices. That’s quite a scoop for Nokia from the rather negative start that the game maker had with Microsoft and Windows Phone.

Nokia and Rovio will partner to develop innovative new consumer products and content exclusively for Nokia Lumia smartphones, alongside cross platform multi-channel integrated marketing initiatives.


EA will be bringing some of their most popular titles to Lumia and other Windows Phones, including FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA Jam, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR®, Mirror’s Edge and Yahtzee to add to the several titles they already have in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Groupon (exclusive to Lumia for 6 months)

There is already an official Groupon app which is going to get some major updates, including a cool and innovative augmented reality feature to find deals near you.

Tripdots (exclusive to Lumia for 3 months)

Tripdots helps vehicle owners optimize their driving behaviors while connecting with other vehicle owners and sharing driving efficiency achievements via social networks. The app lets users monitor the operation of their vehicles to enable cost savings through better understanding fuel economy.


Yet another “key” app missing in the Windows Phone ecosystem is for the popular PayPal service. PayPal is going to work with Nokia to not only bring their app to Windows Phone, but also use functionality like Live Tiles to enhance the user experience.

AOL Entertainment Hub (exclusive to Lumia for 3 months)

Whether you want to listen to one of 55,000 radio stations via SHOUTcast, stream free music albums with AOL’s Listening Party or view Trailers and Movie listings, the AOL Entertainment Hub delivers everything you need.

Yet another app where Live Tiles are going to be used to enhance the user experience:

“The live tiles on Nokia Lumia helped us create an awesome app that makes it easy to stay in the know on what’s happening in Film, TV, Radio, Concerts and Music right from your home screen,” said Sol Lipman, Director of Mobile First products at AOL.

TIME magazine

Utilizing the stunning Windows Phone UI, the app will enable users to view content, receive breaking news alerts, watch rich media content including video and share stories via the Windows Phone People Hub, while delivering the latest news and stories to users first via Live Tiles.

Newsweek – The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast app delivers the latest content through Live Tiles and combines the unique style of The Daily Beast with the Windows Phone UI to deliver a stunning experience. For users who only have minutes to digest the latest news, the app also delivers The Cheat Sheet – your one stop must have reads from across the world – uniquely designed for Windows Phone.

Box app for Windows Phone

Box, another oft-requested app, will finally come to Windows Phone with support for nine languages.