Business

Stripe to ditch Bitcoin payment support

Bitcoin Image copyright Getty Images

Stripe, the firm which helps more than 100,000 businesses do financial transactions online, is to scrap support for Bitcoin payments.

It said Bitcoin users now saw the virtual currency largely as an "asset" to be traded, rather than something to make payments with.

Fewer online merchants wanted to accept the cryptocurrency, it added.

Rising fees and longer transaction times as a result of price fluctuations also lessened its appeal, Stripe said.

'Expensive'

Customers of the US-based payments firm pay a fee to Stripe each time it processes a payment. Clients include Lyft, Deliveroo, Grab and Target.

In 2014, it became the first major payments company to support Bitcoin payments.

At the time Stripe said it hoped Bitcoin would become a way for people in places with low credit card penetration or prohibitively high credit card fees to do transactions online.

But the virtual currency was now "better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange," it said.

Image copyright Getty Images

There has been a huge surge of interest in the digital currency over the past year or so, driven largely by its rapid increase in price.

But that demand has also led to huge swings in price, with Stripe saying the volatility meant the time needed to complete a sale had risen.

"By the time the transaction is confirmed, fluctuations in Bitcoin price mean that it's for the 'wrong' amount," Stripe's product manager Tom Karlo said in his blog.

Bitcoin transaction fees had also risen "a great deal" resulting in a decrease in demand from Stripe's customers to accept Bitcoin payments, he said.

"For a regular Bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of US dollars is common, making Bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires," Mr Karlo wrote.

Image copyright Getty Images

"Because of this, we've seen the desire from our customers to accept Bitcoin decrease. And of the businesses that are accepting Bitcoin on Stripe, we've seen their revenues from Bitcoin decline substantially."

Giving up on cryptocurrencies?

Stripe said it would start winding down its support for Bitcoin immediately and would stop all transactions by 23 April.

But it said its decision to end support for Bitcoin payments did not mean it was giving up on cryptocurrencies all together.

"We're interested in what's happening with Lightning and other proposals to enable faster payments," Mr Karlo said.

"OmiseGO is an ambitious and clever proposal; more broadly, Ethereum continues to spawn many high-potential projects."

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