Online payments solutions provider Stripe has updated its advice on setting up its service to accept bitcoin, saying the feature is set to come out of beta in January 2015 with a fee of 0.5% per transaction.
The company has received $190m so far in six funding rounds, from investors including Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Elon Musk and Andreessen Horowitz. It supports payments in over 14 countries and is used by several major companies including TaskRabbit, Lyft and Shopify to process payments.
Stripe emailed users who had expressed an interest in its bitcoin services on 23rd December and said on its advice page that accepting bitcoin should be a quick and simple process for anyone currently using its APIs.
Developers can enable bitcoin in either 'livemode' (with real bitcoin and addresses) or 'testmode', with Stripe sending three fake bitcoins to the test account once it is set up.
All API endpoints, dashboard pages, and reporting files support both payment types, it said. All developers have to do to present a bitcoin payment option to customers is enable it with a few lines of code in either Stripe.js or Checkout.
The consumer-facing interface looks fairly similar to other bitcoin payment mechanisms online:
Like other similar services, customers will pay in bitcoin but the merchant will receive dollars, as a hedge against price volatility.
Fees have been waived during the beta phase, and Stripe will begin charging the 0.5% per payment fee once the service is fully live.
New competition in bitcoin payments
Once out of beta, Stripe could become a major player in the bitcoin payment processing space. Competitor Braintree, a PayPal subsidiary, launched its own bitcoin services provider in partnership with Coinbase in September.
Stripe did not announce whether it has formed a partnership with any existing bitcoin payment processor or exchange to provide the service. This line from Stripe's user terms page (account required to view) for bitcoin, however, reveals that it will also use Coinbase:
"The Bitcoin API will allow you to convert Bitcoin payment into the designated fiat currency via Coinbase and have your funds transferred into your Bank Account. The Bitcoin API is a technology layer that connects you to Bitcoin exchange and financial services provided by Coinbase, Inc."
The company has long been known as a bitcoin-friendly company and is reportedly seeking to provide the greatest possible number of payment options to users.
Since the beta service launch, CTO Greg Brockman has spoken out publicly on bitcoin's potential a number of times, saying it could "unbundle the existing financial system into layers run by independent companies", and that it may be the first truly global payments network.
Until better use-cases could be found, Brockman wrote, bitcoin had more potential in markets with volatile fiat currencies like Argentina than it could have in the US. A key to introducing new users to digital currency lay with specialist 'gateway' companies to make transactions easier.
CoinDesk has reached out to Stripe for more details on partnerships and user base.