Payment processor Stripe is halting bitcoin support. Declaring that “there are fewer and fewer use cases for which accepting or paying with Bitcoin makes sense,” the online payments specialist is calling it a day on cryptocurrency for the time being. Over the past month, a handful of other companies have also rolled back bitcoin support, usually citing high fees which make micropayments impractical.
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Bitcoin Gets the Boot
Stripe is a $9 billion company run by Irish siblings and youthful entrepreneurs Patrick and John Collison. Stripe had been very receptive to cryptocurrency, and were it not for rising transaction fees, bitcoin would still be very much part of its plans. In a blog post published on Tuesday, project manager Tom Karlo explained the reasons for the volte-face:
Our hope was that Bitcoin could become a universal, decentralized substrate for online transactions and help our customers enable buyers in places that had less credit card penetration or use cases where credit card fees were prohibitive. Over the past year or two, as block size limits have been reached, Bitcoin has evolved to become better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange.
Karlo points to bitcoin’s current volatility, noting that by the time a transaction has been confirmed, BTC’s USD value has already changed, often discernibly. This is coupled with the fact that “For a regular bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of U.S. dollars is common, making bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires.”
Back in 2014, Stripe had written that “Bitcoin has huge potential as a way to transport value. It’s surprisingly difficult to move money today, and the experience of paying for something online is just about the only part of the internet that hasn’t changed dramatically in the past twenty years….we can already start to see the shape of the potential impact of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If we get things right, life is going to be much better for billions of people.”
In halting bitcoin payments, Stripe follows on the heels of Microsoft, which halted and then restored BTC acceptance, and online gaming store Valve. Despite having to bid goodbye to bitcoin for the time being, the Stripe team remains bullish about cryptocurrencies. Tuesday’s blog post expresses enthusiasm for the Lightning Network, stellar, litecoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and omisego.
It ends: “We will continue to pay close attention to the ecosystem and to look for opportunities to help our customers by adding support for cryptocurrencies and new distributed protocols in the future.”
Do you think scaling technology such as the Lightning Network will make bitcoin spendable again? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Stripe.
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