Monday , December 9, 2019

Eye on Cryptocurrencies: CheapAir Lands a New Provider; Payroc Joins the Ranks of Crypto ISOs

Online travel agency CheapAir.com says it has found a workaround that will let it continue to accept cryptocurrency, and Payroc LLC has become the latest payments provider to offer crypto to merchant clients.

Calabasas, Calif.-based CheapAir notified customers on Friday that it has found a new provider for Bitcoin acceptance after learning its long-time processor, Coinbase, had discontinued some crucial tools. “For about a month now, we have been testing an open source Bitcoin payment processor, BTCPayServer, which, admittedly, I had never heard of before several of you suggested I take a look at it,” says Jeff Klee, CheapAir’s chief executive, in a letter posted on the company’s site. “Although there was a slight learning curve at first, and some engineering work to create the flow to turn crypto from you into dollars for airlines and hotels, we are thrilled with the end result.”

Klee: “Although there was a slight learning curve at first, and some engineering work to create the flow to turn crypto from you into dollars for airlines and hotels, we are thrilled with the end result.”

The issue for the 29-year-old travel company is that, while it accepts Bitcoin from its customers, it must remit to most airlines, hotels, and car-rental agencies in so-called fiat currency, such as dollars. When San Francisco-based Coinbase earlier this year launched its new merchant platform, Coinbase Commerce, it also discontinued its Merchant Tools application programming interfaces. These APIs were critical for CheapAir, which has accepted Bitcoin since 2013. “We were in unfamiliar territory to be suddenly scrambling for an alternative,” says Klee’s letter. He adds that CheapAir has created a support unit just for crypto matters that can answer customer inquiries about Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

While Bitcoin accounts for a small fraction of CheapAir’s sales, the company has done more than $10 million in volume on the cryptocurrency to date. Klee told Digital Transactions News in May that sales in Bitcoin have picked up markedly over the past year.

CheapAir’s move to retain Bitcoin acceptance contrasts with the decision in May by online-booking giant Expedia Inc. to stop accepting it for airline and lodging payments. Expedia had accepted Bitcoin since 2014.

In a related development, Tinley Park, Ill.-based Payroc has joined a so-far exclusive club of independent sales organizations that have embraced cryptocurrencies as a payment option for merchants. Payroc’s partnership with Park City, Utah-based blockchain provider Ethos.io PTE will allow merchants to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash, according to a joint announcement released on Monday.

“Our merchants will be able to accept payments via traditional credit cards, [automated clearing house], PayPal, and now popular cryptocurrencies,” said Jared Poulson, chief integrations officer for Payroc, in a statement.

Other ISOs exploring or acting on crypto acceptance include Aliant Payment Systems Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which in May announced a referral partnership with iPayment Inc. in which the Westlake Village, Calif.-based processor will send interested merchants to Aliant for processing. Aliant supports Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ether acceptance.

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