Online payments company Stripe is running a trial with US customers that allows them to accept bitcoin payments, but there is no definite date as to when this will be available in Australia.
Still a controversial currency, bitcoin has slowly been gaining traction in Australia, with a Bitcoin Barcamp held recently and the first bitcoin ATM being installed in Sydney – at a pastry shop in Roseberry.
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If Stripe’s trial proves successful, they plan on making bitcoin payments available in Australia and other countries. It will be the first major online payments platform to support bitcoin.
Stripe recently opened up to Australian merchants in private beta, setting up a presence here led by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Susan Wu.
Stripe cofounder and president John Collison told StartupSmart the inclusion of bitcoin as a payment option won’t have an immediate impact, with some education around bitcoin still needed in the community.
“People selling online aren’t going to shift all their sales to bitcoin overnight, or even in the next few months,” he says. “There’s some education needed on what accepting bitcoin means and what the advantages are.”
He says Stripe will need to make the consumer buying experience better.
“That’ll take time, but we’re pretty excited about this addition,” Collison says.
“Breaking down economic barriers is one thing both Stripe and bitcoin have in common.”
According to Re/Code, once implemented, merchants who decide to use Stripe to accept bitcoin payments will automatically be paid out in the local currency of their choice. They set the price for their product or service in a local currency and Stripe automatically calculates for their customers what that will cost in bitcoin.
Neither Stripe nor its customers will hold onto the bitcoin, meaning the businesses that accept bitcoin will not be subject to the volatility of its price.
Local Stripe competitor Pin Payments currently has no plans to implement Bitcoin. Pin Payments Founder Grant Bissett says Bitcoin doesn’t solve a real problem for their customers.
“In the longer term it’s likely that we would consider using Bitcoin – or one of the many other emerging cryptocurrencies, but not as a customer-facing product, ” he told StartupSmart.
Bissett says sites like Coinjar have a great product and are already providing Bitcoin support for local merchants.
“In the relatively conservative banking environment in which Pin Payments operates, we feel that maintaining a moat between regulated and unregulated payment activities will benefit all participants in the local payments industry, in turn improving the offerings for businesses and consumers in the region,” he says.