Stripe Remains Non-Committal on Cryptocurrency Payments 42 months After Stopping the Practice

While Stripe does not currently accept cryptocurrencies as payment, the are monitoring the space and could change that policy in the future, its co-founder and president said today.

Speaking at the Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival, John Collison noted his company and cryptocurrencies were founded within months of each other, with crypto coming first. He said he is excited about recent performance improvements in the space and how designers are producing more cost-effective scalability. Also catching Collison’s eye are blockchains like Solana, which are adding possibilities while improving performance

“I think all of that work is interesting because we are interested in bringing more people into the global economy at Stripe, we are interested in letting a business… sell all around the world,” Collison said.

Collison does not believe everyone around the world will equally benefit from the proliferation of cryptocurrencies. Those residing in less-developed parts of the world should see the biggest differences, because more developed economies with well-developed credit card networks and bank transfer systems will see less differential value from their adoption.

Stripe actually accepted cryptocurrency payments from 2014 to 2018 before stopping the practice. They hoped Bitcoin could because a universal tool for online transactions while helping buyers from regions with lower credit card penetration or higher fees to participate in the global economy. That had not been realized by 2018, Tom Karlo wrote in a blog post on Jan. 23, 2018.

“Over the past year or two, as block size limits have been reached, Bitcoin has evolved to become better suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange,” he said. “Given the overall success that the Bitcoin community has achieved, it’s hard to quibble with the decisions that have been made along the way. (And we’re certainly happy to see any novel, ambitious project do so well.)”

Bitcoin was less useful as a payment tool, Karlo noted. Transaction times have risen, producing higher failure rates for transactions denominated in fiat currencies, as high volatility in cryppto meant that by the time the transaction was confirmed, the prices on the two sides of the transaction no longer equated.

Fees for Bitcoin transactions also rose, Karlo wrote, making them comparable to bank wires.

“Because of this, we’ve seen the desire from our customers to accept Bitcoin decrease,” he said in 2018. “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.

The final day for Bitcoin transactions was April 23, 2018.

Karlo hedged his bets by saying Stripe remained optimistic overall about cryptocurrencies moving forward. He spoke highly of Lightning, OmiseGo, Ethereum and Stellar, too.

“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,” Karlo wrote. “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.

So, we will continue to pay close attention to the ecosystem and to look for opportunities to help our customers by adding support for cryptocurrencies and new distributed protocols in the future.”

Despite significant developments over the last 42 months, Collison maintained the same noncommittal stance when asked if Stripe could once again accept cryptocurrency-based payments on its platform.

“We don’t yet, but I don’t think it’s implausible that we would,” Collison said Tuesday.

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