Policy: Economy

Why doesn't Google or Yahoo include Bitcoin in their currency converters?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Google,Ashe Schow,Economy,Technology,Bitcoin,Dogecoin,Yahoo

Bitcoin, the most valuable cryptocurrency on the market, is not included in either Google or Yahoo's currency converters, despite the currency's massive popularity.

Microsoft's search engine Bing, as well as Oanda, one of the most widely used online currency converters, do include Bitcoin, but not other cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin or Dogecoin.

Neither Google nor Yahoo seemed keen to discuss the oversight. Jason Freidenfelds, Google’s manager of global communications and public affairs, wouldn’t say if the company planned to introduce the currency into its converter any time soon.

“We don't have any specific plans to announce,” Freidenfelds told the Washington Examiner. “We typically don't announce product launches in advance.”

Pressed further about why Google, whose converter calculates more than 90 currencies, hasn’t included the cryptocurrency in its converter, Freidenfelds deflected.

“We listen to our users and get feature requests all the time, and the team works constantly to launch new features and update things — we made over 890 improvements to search quality in 2013,” Freidenfelds said. “We're going to keep cranking out improvements as fast as we can.”

A representative from Yahoo provided a similar — if not more terse — response.

“We can't comment on future plans,” Bahareh Ramin, Yahoo’s senior communications manager, told the Examiner.

Ramin did not respond to a request for comment about why Yahoo so far hasn’t included cryptocurrencies in its converter.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Oanda were more than happy to discuss their inclusion of Bitcoin into their currency converters.

“Bitcoin has been highly discussed and people are looking for information on it,” a Microsoft spokesperson told the Examiner. “This is a simple way that we can help people get the information they’re looking for while showcasing our agile ability to respond to emerging trends.”

Bing added Bitcoin to its converter Feb. 10, making it the first and only of the big three search engines to include the currency.

Courtney Gibson, vice president of trading at Oanda, was even more forthcoming.

“We added Bitcoin to the Oanda currency converter last spring because we admire it as an interesting experiment in financial innovation,” Gibson told the Examiner. “And because we're financial innovators too — we have a history of introducing firsts to the [foreign exchange] market — we share the excitement such disruptive technologies can bring to mature industries and markets.”

“By adding Bitcoin to our currency converter, we acknowledged the wide-ranging interest Bitcoin has generated as a virtual payment system, as well as responding to our customer's interest in it,” Gibson added.

Asked whether Oanda planned to include other cryptocurrencies in its converter, Gibson provided some hope.

“Bitcoin is one of several virtual currencies that have emerged in recent years and is by far the most popular today,” Gibson said. “As we see the interest in additional cryptocurrencies from our clients, we will carefully consider adding those to our currency converter as well.”

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