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Steam suspends Bitcoin support due to high fees

09 December, 2017, 13:29 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • Steam suspends Bitcoin support due to high fees

Transaction fees charged to customers using Bitcoin have surged throughout 2017, Valve says, peaking at $20 last week from a starting of about $0.20 when Steam first started using the currency.

Less than two years after adopting Bitcoin as a payment option on Steam, Valve has announced that it is dropping support for the virtual currency.

In a blog post, Valve engineer Kurtis Chinn lays out its reasons for ditching Bitcoin.

Some financial experts believe that the continued rise in value of a single coin is evidence that the digital money is a bubble and one that is set to burst imminently, costing investors heavily. In a blog post, Valve explained that bitcoin transaction fees have gone up to almost $20 per transaction last week, "compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin".

Steam customers who use Bitcoin pay for the cost of the game, as well as the transaction fee charged by the network - but the processing time for the cryptocurrency has created a problem.

"Unfortunately, Valve has no control over the amount of the fee", wrote Chinn.

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The problem stems from the fact that Bitcoin's value is guaranteed only for a short time when making purchases with the cryptocurrency.

He said that the volatile fees with Steam purchases can come from timing delays associated with confirming transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain, which is constantly being updated but can suffer from network congestion. 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.

The cryptocurrency may be going through a hard time, but the long wait for the Lightning Network may now be close to over, as recently startups behind the three most active Lightning implementations revealed tests results that include live transactions. But in the case of bitcoin, high transaction fees can make those resolutions costly.

If a Bitcoin-based transaction was prolonged, the value of the coins being transferred could change "significantly", it said.

Steam's original policy was to refund the original payment method back to the buyer or request additional Bitcoin to cover the change in value. "This year, we've seen increasing number of customers get into this state". The company adds that it may re-evaluate if accepting the cryptocurrency makes sense at a later date.

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