Stripe is a San Francisco-based web and mobile payments startup. The service advertises itself as being “built for developers,” since it provides numerous APIs to power commerce on a range of devices and platforms.
Stripe also offers competitive pricing that is often cheaper than alternatives such as PayPal.
Despite being relatively new to the online payments scene, Stripe is already powering hundreds of thousands of websites, including reddit, theguardian, WolframAlpha, dribbble, and more. And just today, the company made a major announcement – Stripe has started testing Bitcoin support.
Stripe’s lead bitcoin engineer Christian Anderson considers the cryptocurrency a “long term investment.”
“People selling online aren’t going to shift all their sales to bitcoin overnight, or even in the next few months. There’s some education needed on what accepting bitcoin means and what the advantages are.
We also need to make the consumer buying experience better. That’ll take time.”
To keep things simple for merchants unfamiliar with bitcoin, BTC payments will be converted to fiat at a fair exchange rate before being sent to the merchant’s bank account. At the moment, there are no plans for direct bitcoin payments to merchants, but this could change if there is enough demand for the feature. However, the current system has the benefit that U.S. merchants won’t have to deal with the IRS’s new taxation rules for virtual currencies, since merchants will be paid in fiat. At the moment, online backup service Tarsnap is the only service to accept bitcoin payments through Stripe. However, merchants can sign up for bitcoin beta testing here.
This is a big deal for consumers. Despite having big-name competitors like PayPal, Stripe already powers many websites that people use every day. In fact, twitter is nearing a deal with Stripe to let users purchase products and services through the social network. Having such a prominent online payments processor accept BTC has huge implications for bitcoin users, and there is little doubt that Stripe’s announcement will help further legitimise bitcoin.