PayPal hosts Bitcoin event

PayPal, a subsidiary of online auction house eBay, held a Bitcoin launch event on July 31 under the name PayPal TechXploration.

The city hall in San Jose, California, was filled with hundreds of people, some of whom could only get standing room. On the registration page, 700 people had already expressed their interest in the event.

PayPal and Bitcoin

Part of the event, hosted by PayPal and eBay staff and Bitcoin enthusiasts, aimed to explain to people the concept and technology behind Bitcoin.

The keynote speaker at the event was Scott Robinson, Director of the Bitcoin Incubator Program at the Plug and Play Technology Center and host of the Silicon Valley Bitcoin Meetup. During his presentation, Robinson pointed out that most people have probably never heard of Bitcoin before, as they have considered the US dollar to be the most effective currency to date.

He told the audience: “We have never really questioned the US dollar. We’ve never worried about the dollar.”

The Bitcoin technology

Explaining the Bitcoin technology to newcomers is not so easy, especially in such a large audience. Robinson began to describe Bitcoin listening as follows: “Bitcoin is both a protocol and a currency.” In part of the speech, Robinson explained how Bitcoin solves the Byzantine General problem. A problem other predecessors of the digital currency have already failed to solve.

Robin said:

“The practical consequence of solving the problem is that any Internet user can send their property to another user.

During his presentation, the audience asked which of them owns Bitcoin – a third of the people raised their hands.

Scott Robinson of Plug and Play asking how many people own bitcoin at the PayPal event.
Robinson’s presentation had two objectives: to talk about Bitcoin’s potential and to inform about the rise and importance of Bitcoin start-ups.

“Bitcoin is a five-year-old technology that can be compared to the Internet.

Robinson compares Bitcoin with the beginnings of the Internet. Source: CoinDesk
He also announced that Plug and Play was offering Bitcoin startups $25,000 in support, office space and mentoring for interested business people. After the presentation, two major Bitcoin startups were discussed that have helped Bitcoin be used by the masses.

One of them was 37Coin, an SMS Bitcoin Wallet service that allows people without a bank account to access financial resources via Bitcoin and mobile phones.

Joanthan Zobro, co-founder of the company said:

“We’re solving the fundamental first step in bringing Bitcoin to the market.”

To demonstrate the service, the company gave each listener $2 worth of Bitcoin by requiring each user to send an SMS to a specific number. Then a Bitcoin Wallet was automatically created and the corresponding amount was transferred by SMS.

Xapo’s Managing Director, Fernando Gouveia, also briefly introduced his company. The company has already received $40 million in venture capital and is one of the most successful companies on the Bitcoin scene.

PayPal was founded in 1998 and has been successful because people can send money via their email address. PayPal is a large company operating under the umbrella of eBay. Bitcoin and other digital currencies have become a serious competitor to the business model.

Scott Robinson talking bitcoin at the PayPal HQ.
In June, eBay CEO John Donahoe said that Bitcoin is more than just on the company’s radar screen and is looking for a way to integrate digital currencies. However, Donahoe and his team may be working on their own in-house solution that can compete with Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Earlier this year we reported that PayPal had filed a patent to develop digital tokens – this could be a sign that the company wants to create a competition for Bitcoin.

It may be a coincidence, but on the same day of the PayPal event, Stripe announced that it had invested in a project called Stellar. Also involved in the project is Mt.Gox inventor and Ripple Labs co-founder Jed McCaleb.