Major payments firm to stop accepting bitcoin

An early cheerleader for bitcoin has announced it’s pulling the plug on the digital currency.

Leading online payments company Stripe said it will stop processing bitcoin transactions in April.

Stripe, which works with more than 100,000 businesses around the world, said it made the decision because huge volatility in bitcoin’s price has made it pretty impractical for making and receiving payments.

“Bitcoin has evolved to become better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange,” Stripe executive Tom Karlo wrote in a company blog post Tuesday.

Stripe’s withdrawal of support comes on the back of bitcoin’s wild ride over the last year or so.

Over the course of 2017, its price surged from under $1,000 to more than $19,000 at one point. It’s plunged back to around $10,000 during tumultuous trading this month.

Experts say that the violent swings make bitcoin less useful as a currency and more of a vehicle for speculators to bet on its future value.

Stripe was one of the first payments companies to throw its weight behind bitcoin, introducing transactions in the virtual currency in early 2015.

But since then, transaction fees for processing bitcoin payments have risen, Stripe said. That has made the currency less and less popular with businesses that use Stripe.

The company said it would stop processing all bitcoin transactions on April 23.

Gaming company Steam stopped accepting bitcoin payments for similar reasons in December.

However, Stripe said it couldn’t rule out adopting bitcoin again at some point in the future. It added that it was also looking into using other virtual currencies, such as ethereum and lightning.