Dara Khosrowshahi, who just accepted the top job at Uber, is known as a competent and easy-going executive who ran travel site Expedia with great success. Less well known is that Khosrowshahi was an early advocate of bitcoin.
As Quartz notes, Expedia began accepting bitcoin way back in 2014. The decision to do so reflects a bold move by Khosrowshahi because, at the time, the currency was still considered controversial, and few other companies would go near it.
This raises the tantalizing prospect that Khosrowshahi, whose background is in finance, will experiment with accepting digital currency on the world’s biggest ride-sharing platform.
The idea of Uber accepting bitcoin has been floated before, though founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick never appeared to take a personal interest in it. This could change under Khosrowshahi, especially as there may be a strong use case for digital currency in some of the emerging markets where Uber operates.
In these markets, where banking services are rudimentary and payment fees can be exorbitant, bitcoin’s advantages—especially its tamper-proof transaction record and easy accessibility—are especially appealing. It’s not far-fetched to see Uber, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, using bitcoin-based services to let customers pay for rides and to transfer funds to drivers.
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Khosrowshahi’s background in finance and his personal experience with overbearing governments (Iran reported nationalized his family’s company before they emigrated to the US in 1978) could make him the ideal executive to popularize digital currency in the ride-sharing industry.
And, yes, a reality check is in order: Khosrowshahi has a very long to-do list at Uber—fixing a screwed-up culture, smoothing over a bitter board fight, high profile IP lawsuits, etc—and bitcoin is assuredly not at the top of it. Meanwhile, consumers are still showing no sign of adopting bitcoin as an everyday payment method, and adoption among merchants (other than Overstock) has stalled, so Uber may lack incentives to go for it.
Nonetheless, the fact someone like Khosrowshahia is now atop one of the world’s most prominent companies, can only be good news for bitcoin believers.
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