Steam Ends Bitcoin Support

James Marshall
December 7, 2017

This Wednesday, Valve announced via Steam Blog that its digital distribution platform will henceforth not accept Bitcoin as payment for its content and services.

Explaining the motivating factors behind the move, Valve pointed out that Bitcoin transaction fees have shot up to as much as $20 per transaction, "compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin".

The company detailed the decision on Steam's official blog, explaining that recent fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin have made using it on Steam unreasonably hard and costly for consumers. Basically, if the value of bitcoin changes while a customer is finalizing an order, the order will either need to be refunded or Valve must ask the customer to transfer more bitcoin to cover the purchase. Regarding the fees, Valve pointed out that the transaction fee charged to the customer using Bitcoin rose from 20 cents when Valve started accepting it to nearly $20 today.

It's an interesting decision, and one that raises questions about Bitcoin's value as a currency. In an effort to prevent customers from wasting money on fees and to protect itself from volatility, Valve has simply chose to remove Bitcoin as an option during checkout.

Steam's resolutions to this, refunding the payment or asking for a transfer of additional funds, incurs network transaction fee which comes in addition to the base transaction fee.

As a result, Valve said support for Bitcoin has become "untenable", but it said it might reevaluate the cryptocurrency's fit into its business at a later date.

"The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different", wrote Chinn.

Steam described how the rapid rise and fall of Bitcoin versus the United States dollar has impacted users trying to buy games with the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin's bull run in 2017 has been marked by significant dips in price, following events such as China's crackdown on cryptocurrencies and the cancelation of the SegWit2x upgrade (which resulted in a 29% drop in price, followed by an abrupt recovery). Besides, very few people user Bitcoin for everyday transactions because of the very slow processing speeds and high fees involved per transaction.

Valve's shirking of bitcoin is another development in a broader debate about the usefulness of the cryptocurrency.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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