Payments startup Stripe Inc. is set to the be the latest company to abandon support for bitcoin payments.

The company said Tuesday it will drop support for the cryptocurrency starting April 23, citing a lack of user interest, transaction costs and processing delays as being behind their decision.

Stripe added support for bitcoin in 2014, making it one of the earliest firms of note to accept the then-fledgling cryptocurrency. Because Stripe provides merchant payment services to other companies, this meant that a diverse range of companies and startups, such as Kickstarter, Instacart and Shopify at one point, in theory could accept bitcoin payments. But it was not clear exactly how many companies ever took up the option to do so.

In a blog post, Tam Karlo, a Stripe product manager, was careful to praise bitcoin as an idea, saying that if anything, the decision to pull support for it was because of bitcoin’s success in becoming an asset class rather than a means of exchange.

As bitcoin has become more popular, “transaction confirmation times have risen substantially; this, in turn, has led to an increase in the failure rate of transactions denominated in fiat currencies,” Karlo wrote. That made it difficult for transactions, because the bitcoin price may have changed between the point the transaction had begun and it was completed.

Fees were also cited as another issue. Karlo pointed to a chat that shows bitcoin transaction fees had climbed to as high as $54 per transaction at one point, making then “about as expensive as bank wires.”

Stripe isn’t the first company to abandon bitcoin as a payment method for these same reasons. Valve Corp.’s popular online game service Steam abandoned support for bitcoin in December, citing increased volatility in the price of bitcoin and a “significant increase” in fees to process transactions on the bitcoin network. Microsoft Corp. has had an on again, off-again relationship with the cryptocurrency, abandoning support Jan. 8 before restoring it again two days later.

Bitcoin itself was unmoved by the news, trading at $10,837.55 as of 10:30 p.m. EST, ever so slightly below the $11,000 to $13,000 price range where it had been trading over the weekend.

Photo: perolofforsberg/Flickr


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