Bitcoin’s most recent rallies have been great for holders and for greater awareness of the cryptocurrency itself. However, between sell orders and buy orders, with new money entering and leaving the market, Bitcoin’s price has become incredibly volatile again. While there is opportunity in volatility, it makes for a complex situation in regards to payments. Citing this, Steam recently announced it will suspend Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Steam Forgoes Bitcoin, for now
As a gamer and a Bitcoin enthusiast, I cannot express how excited I was a few years ago when Steam introduced Bitcoin as a payment option (though my purchase back then seems far more expensive now; such is life). This changed the game – pardon the play on words. A company facilitating a massive number of daily Bitcoin transactions was exactly what the network needed.
However, in a recent blog post, Steam has since announced it will stop accepting Bitcoin payments. The announcement was effective immediately.
The first reason cited for this change is that Bitcoin has become excessively volatile during its recent bull run. Even when using BitPay as a third party to settle Bitcoin transactions, there apparently were times when customers were either over or undercharged for their purchases. Bitcoin’s block times and confirmations meant that sometimes the price would drastically change while people waited for payments to clear.
Due to those discrepancies, the second problem of transaction fees arose. Sometimes, customers would have to send additional Bitcoin to settle the remaining amount, which of course incurred a second round of transaction fees. Whether or not these individuals were using SegWit-enabled wallets is not the point; making anyone pay a transaction fee for the same product more than once is ludicrous. I can understand why Steam was looking to protect the customer on this one, even if their decision is disappointing.
All is not lost, however. The company’s blog post contains language which suggests that it may revisit this issue as prices stabilize. My worry is that other companies will follow Steam’s lead and disable Bitcoin payments during bull runs, or never reintegrate support. I appreciate them looking out for the customer, but it is rather discouraging for the world of peer-to-peer digital cash.
A humble suggestion
This all may illustrate one of the better arguments for third party intermediaries supporting altcoins. It is a case of a business responding to a market, citing volatility and fee concerns. Perhaps providing customers with alternative payment options may be best here? There are already cries in the comment thread of the blog post asking for all manner of coins to be added, including Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Dogecoin, to name a few.
I think that would be a splendid idea, actually. It could show off the utility of other cryptocurrencies and introduce a bit more competition into the cryptocurrency sector. More competition is always a good thing, and yet – until recently – we’ve all been rather okay with Bitcoin being the primary payment option when it comes to cryptos. Perhaps more options will help invigorate innovation among all coins in general.