Bitcoin Gains Legitimacy With BitPay-Global Deal: BMO

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Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) announced a deal with Bitcoin service provider BitPay today that will allow it to offer Bitcoin payments in its suite of products. As one of the world’s largest payment processors and a Fortune 1000 company, Global Payments decision to embrace Bitcoin has the potential to enormously expand the cryptocurrency’s global reach. The fact that Bitcoin’s price hasn’t spiked is also good news, implying that the currency’s infamous volatility is starting to settle down (chart from CoinDesk).

BitPay brings a strong track record to the deal

“This partnership with Global Payments allows ecommerce and retail merchants to easily accept bitcoin payments,” said BitPay co-founder and executive chairman Tony Gallippi. “The cross-border demands of global merchants present a great opportunity for bitcoin acceptance and will allow us to reach more customers in emerging markets.”

As a leading Bitcoin service provider, Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) decision to work with BitPay makes sense. It’s widely reported to have handled $100 million worth of transaction involving more than 15,000 merchants in 200 countries in 2013, but considering there are only 195 countries on the planet (not counting Taiwan), we can take those numbers as estimates. Still, it has had a lot of success by letting merchants set prices in one of eight hard currencies and get paid in that currency, taking the exchange rate risk on themselves.

BitPay also brought former Visa exec Tim Byun, who also has experience at the FDIC and the San Francisco Fed, onboard as its Chief Compliance Officer, an important hire that signaled BitPay’s intention to become a serious part of the larger payment processing industry. After the Mt. Gox debacle earlier this year, an established track record and the presence of industry experts like Byun must have played a large role in convincing Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) to make the deal.

BMO sees upside for Bitcoin, not so much for GPN

“While we believe this agreement likely has low economic significance to GPN in the near- to mid-term, we believe the broader significance of continued acceptance of digital currencies among traditional payment service providers is the real story here,” writes BMO Capital Markets analyst Paul Condra, who rates Global Payments Inc (NYSE:GPN) Market Perform with a $78 price target (currently $68.5).

Condra argues that this deal along with First Data’s acquisition of Gyft, which also uses BitPay to process Bitcoin payments, shows that established payment processing companies are busy positioning preparing themselves for the growth of digital currency transactions.

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