Stripe has finally opened up Bitcoin payments for all of its users, after more than a year of beta testing. The new service launched today and merchants can add Bitcoin as an option for their customers with one small line of code.
Stripe launched a beta program for bitcoin back in May 2014. During that time, merchants accepted bitcoin from more than 60 countries, proving its global capabilities. Stripe added support for Apple Pay and Alipay last year, but neither of those centralized services hold the same global potential as Bitcoin.
Stripe will be taking a 0.5 % fee for every bitcoin transaction, so there are cheaper bitcoin-centric alternatives. It is, however, much cheaper than Stripe's other options. Fiat options through Stripe run a 2.9% fee, plus 30 cents, for every successful transaction. This spread should be enough to demonstrate the power of Bitcoin to Stripe merchants.
While bitcoin buyers can come from anywhere in the world, merchants will be required to hold a U.S. bank account in order to accept bitcoin through Stripe.
Stripe is one of the largest mobile payment processors in the world, and is utilized by Kickstarter, Shopify, Lyft, Pebble, and many more.
While the Stripe bitcoin beta program was never the most difficult thing to get into, Stripe jumping completely into the industry did coincide with a modest rise in bitcoin price that may have also been buoyed by Morgan Spurlock's CNN special that aired the day before.
We reached out to some other experts in the industry, and Nathan Wosnack of Blockchain Factory gave us this quote.
“With Stripe's user base, they have an opportunity to profit and even maintain a strong position, perhaps even as leaders. They are deeply ingrained in the traditional payment processing world, and innovated. [. . .] And what great timing, right after Morgan Spurlock had a phenomenal CNN episode which arguably was the best explanation of bitcoin and its potential to the layman.”
Predictably, the news was welcomed from the vast majority of the bitcoin industry. Even Fred Wilson, who is invested in Coinbase and is now a potential competitor to Stripe in the Bitcoin payment processors market. As noticed by bizjournals, he had some positive things to say on his blog.
“It’s things like this, making it drop dead simple for merchants to accept bitcoin, that will help drive adoption of Bitcoin payments in the coming years.”
Coinbase seems dedicated to improving the legitimacy of Bitcoin. That explains much of its behavior, which has annoyed a certain segment of the bitcoin using public. A company like Stripe is yet another check in the column for the legitimacy of bitcoin. If Shopify merchants are accepting bitcoin at farmer’s markets and if Lyft drivers are giving discounts for bitcoin customers, it stops being the weird digital currency used by drug dealers to the public and becomes the currency used by their neighbors.
The number of big name merchants that jumped into the Bitcoin space last year is well documented. But as was the case with Paypal and Braintree's movement into the space, the positive effects won't be felt right away, or at all. It is up to the individual merchants to begin accepting the digital currency, and up to the bitcoin faithful to convince them to do so.
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