Payments platform Stripe will stop accepting bitcoin on 23 April. While risking condemnation from the cryptocurrency crowd, many are saying it’s not only a wise move by Stripe, but also necessary due to the changing market in alternative currencies.
Stripe CEO Tom Karlo has stated his belief that bitcoin is no longer a currency or means of payment, but an asset. He says that it should be used for investment purposes only, but is no longer suitable as a means of transaction in the Internet age.
He has a point.
Anyone who has used bitcoin will have experienced frustration and how long transactions take to complete – often many hours – during which, currencies and values may have shifted. In fact, there have been numerous occasions where merchants have alleged buyers are attempting to use fluctuations in the cryptocurrency as a form of consumer leverage, with the transaction time being crucial to that.
Another point, which Karlo didn’t mention, was to do with the associated costs and fees concerning bitcoin.
As the value and popularity of the currency increased, there was an inevitable influx of middlemen and brokers, all wishing to, “clip the ticket,” on bitcoin trades and the transactions that follow.
This was not surprising. What many people didn’t predict, was the popularity of these middlemen. Due to the complex nature of the currency, many people didn’t understand the nature of the transactions, how they could get involved or even how cryptocurrency worked. New blogs and informational websites arose, promising to explain the virtues or downsides of bitcoin, with many claiming expertise in certain areas.
Brokerages and bitcoin agencies sprang up overnight, with extraordinary success in many cases. The result has been a reliance on these brokerages that has to a certain extent stifled many of the unique characteristics originally promised.
Transactions are more complicated, and more people are getting paid.
While it cannot be said that bitcoin is an asset in the purest sense, there is an element of truth to it, and that element will be telling in years to come. In the more immediate future, should other payment platforms follow Stripe’s example and remove bitcoin as a means of payment, the viability of the currency as a genuine and pure means of payment could easily be jeopardised.
Of course, if the past is anything to go by then other payment platforms specialising in bitcoin will spring out of nowhere.