Microsoft restored Bitcoin payments for its online store in early January after removing the option in December 2017. The company lets consumers use cryptocurrency to pay for Windows services and Xbox gift cards. But what about allowing brands to pay for advertising across its network?
Consulting firm Winterberry Group predicts blockchain payments and authentication for the advertising industry will see its first "use case" in 2018.
Richard Rofe, managing partner at Arcadia Crypto Ventures, said the "benefits of using bitcoin as opposed to cash is its convenient, used worldwide" and it doesn't require a third party to get involved.
At Microsoft, customers use Bitcoin to add dollars to their online account, but the company doesn't take possession of the cryptocurrency. Microsoft facilitates the sale of Bitcoin through an exchange, and that exchange converts Bitcoin into funds that customers can use to add dollars to their Microsoft account. The credit can be used to make purchases in its digital stores such as when someone wants to purchase an Xbox or Windows gift card.
With Microsoft's introduction of blockchain technology to support several types of industries the question (for me) becomes whether Microsoft will begin accepting bitcoin, or other types of cryptocurrency, in the form of payments for media buys on Bing Ads.
“Bing Ads does not currently take Bitcoin today as a form of payment" to run ads across the Bing network of sites, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. "We have no additional news to announce at this time."
Ah, "at this time" -- but what about in the near future?
Aside from speed, security and potential for reduced fees that cryptocurrencies on blockchain generally provide, Charles Manning, founder and CEO at Kochava, which operates the blockchain advertising framework XCHNG, believes the true value of tokens is that the currency supports insertion orders. He said it's like building in an escrow function.
"The token can be encrypted in the blockchain and released when requirements of the IO are met, without the involvement of intermediaries," he said. "Of course the framework also includes structure for payment providers, who can serve fiat exchange and escrow functions for advertisers who are more comfortable."
A transparent and trackable system for transactions and payments must have a ledger that provides a view into earned incentives by companies providing value within the blockchain in addition to buy and selling of media," he said.
In a blog post, Manning explains how publishers will sell and advertisers will buy advertisements. He believes companies like Kochava, which operates the
blockchain advertising framework XCHNG, will decentralize smart-contract insertion orders and enable a smoother payment process.
It all ties into a smart contract, which facilitates to the letter the instructions in which advertising can be bought, sold and served to a consumer across the web on desktop or mobile devices. There's no veering left or right, because the technology and blockchain platform completely automates the art of buying, selling and serving.