Silicon Valley’s dream of a stateless digital currency for payments goes back to the early days of internet entrepreneurship, just before the turn of the century: Peter Thiel has said PayPal, the highly successful payment company he co-founded, fell short when it comes creating the “new world currency” it once envisioned. Bitcoin comes closer in some ways to realizing that goal, yet one of the technology sector’s most ambitious startups says the cryptoasset still has serious shortcomings.

Stripe, a San Francisco-based payment processor for more than 100,000 businesses, said yesterday (Jan. 23) that it will stop processing bitcoin transactions on April 23.

Stripe product manager Tom Karlo said the firm, which has accepted bitcoin for payments since 2014, had hoped the digital coin would become a “universal, decentralized substrate for online transactions” that helps users in places where credit cards are less available or too expensive. So far bitcoin is turning out to be more like digital gold than a currency for small or frequent payments.

Transactions are taking longer to confirm, and the sheer volatility has caused failures because transactions are ending up in the wrong amount of fiat currency. A regular bitcoin transaction typically costs $10 or more in expenses, Karlo said, which is comparable to a bank wire.

“There are fewer and fewer use cases for which accepting or paying with Bitcoin makes sense,” he wrote. Businesses that accept the original cryptoasset have seen their revenues from bitcoin drop. Read more from…

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