After a user on imgur posted an image purportedly of someone representing Uber confirming Bitcoin integration, various media outlets, including Bitcoinist, took the shaky claim and ran with it, stating that Uber had “confirmed” that Bitcoin integration was imminent.
Through some very basic journalistic techniques (we emailed and asked Uber directly) we can now confirm that Uber is not working on anything Bitcoin related at this time, or at least are not willing to talk about it. We spoke to Harry Porter, Uber’s Communications lead for the UK, Ireland and Nordics. He first said that it seemed unlikely but would need to check with the U.S. team. A few hours later, he came back with a definitive statement on the matter.
“I can confirm that [the rumor that Uber will soon be accepting bitcoin is] not true.”
Update: Uber has replied with an even more definitive statement when asked if there was any “long term plans” to accept Bitcoin through BrainTree, stating “No – nothing at this stage” making it as clear as possible that the Bitcoinist article is incorrect.
This showcases the importance for serious media outlets of not simply accepting Reddit or imgur posts as fact and double checking your sources, rather than making bold proclamations based on anonymous internet users posting easily modified images.
The rumor that Uber will eventually accept bitcoin as a payment method has been floating around ever since its payment processor, BrainTree, stated that it would begin allowing merchants to accept bitcoin if they choose.
Unfortunately, it appears that the dream of a Bitcoin-powered Uber has not yet been filled. While I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news, it is important to note that artificially generated hype that falls flat is likely to have a more harmful effect on Bitcoin than if it had never been generated at all.
While Bitcoin and Uber do seem like an ideal match, I find it unlikely that any major merchants are going to start accepting bitcoin while the blocksize debate and corresponding spam attacks on bitcoin are ongoing and slowing down the network.
In the meantime, Bitcoin users are well-advised to pay attention to their news sources and hold them and their so-called journalists to their mistakes.
We will keep an eye out for any real indications that Uber or any other major merchant is accepting bitcoin, we will double check the reports with original sources before stating something as “confirmed” in a weak attempt to be the first to a story.
Update: We want to point out that CoinDesk also, independent of us, confirmed with Uber that the rumor is false.