Stripe to pull plug on Bitcoin experiment
US-based payments firm, Stripe, is to end support for Bitcoin payments. The virtual currency is now "better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange," it claims, adding that fewer online merchants want to accept it.
In 2014, Stripe became the first major payments company to support Bitcoin payments. “Our hope was that Bitcoin could become a universal, decentralised substrate for online transactions and help customers enable buyers in places that had less credit card penetration or use cases where credit card fees were prohibitive,” Stripe's product manager Tom Karlo said in a blog post. “But over time it has becoming less useful for payments. Transaction confirmation times have risen substantially; this, in turn, has led to an increase in the failure rate of transactions denominated in fiat currencies. (By the time the transaction is confirmed, fluctuations in Bitcoin price mean that it’s for the “wrong” amount.) Furthermore, fees have risen a great deal. For a regular Bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of US dollars is common, making Bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires.”
He adds: “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. Empirically, there are fewer and fewer use cases for which accepting or paying with Bitcoin makes sense. Over the next three months we will work with affected Stripe users to ensure a smooth transition before we stop processing Bitcoin transactions on 23rd April 2018.”
Stripe remains, however, very optimistic about cryptocurrencies overall and will continue to pay close attention to the ecosystem. “There are a lot of efforts that we view as promising and that we can certainly imagine enabling support for in the future,” says Karlo. “We’re interested in what’s happening with Lightning and other proposals to enable faster payments. OmiseGO is an ambitious and clever proposal; more broadly, Ethereum continues to spawn many high-potential projects. We may add support for Stellar (to which we provided seed funding) if substantive use continues to grow. It’s possible that Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, or another Bitcoin variant, will find a way to achieve significant popularity while keeping settlement times and transaction fees very low. Bitcoin itself may become viable for payments again in the future. And, of course, there’ll be more ideas and technologies in the years ahead.”