BitPay, one of the world’s biggest payment processors for Bitcoin, has made a huge announcement regarding the acceptance of altcoins. Amid growing concerns about Bitcoin’s transaction fees and inhibition on utilizing the cryptocurrency for smaller payments (with fees often getting to the $15-20 range, even for small transactions), this is set to both propel BitPay forward as a company and allow the system to be used cheaply once again.
What is BitPay?
BitPay is one of the premier cryptocurrency-based businesses. They run well-known and trusted wallets (called BitPay and CoPay), prepaid debit cards that can be loaded with Bitcoin, and also serve as a payment processor for businesses that want to accept Bitcoin but don’t want the volatility that comes with it, essentially playing as the middleman and paying out in fiat.
With no fees on Bitcoin deposits to their debit card and no fees to use it, they are a very valuable asset for those who want to cash out and be able to use a debit card directly. Along with this, their conversion rates are competitive with other exchanges, and funds are available after one confirmation on the network.
So far, their biggest negative has been the fees of actually sending the Bitcoin to get it loaded. Since they don’t allow you to store BTC on their site itself, you have to send it as you want it converted – so if you want to add $100 now and $100 in a week, you’d have to do two separate transactions. The fees on this add up quickly, making it fairly expensive for smaller purchases. But this is where the altcoins come in.
The Addition of Altcoins
In their announcement, they attribute different benefits to different blockchains (such as more security, lower fees, or faster transactions). As a result, they are opening the doors to supporting those – while also completely supporting Bitcoin, so it’s not an either/or situation.
As of yet, the only altcoin that has been officially announced is Bitcoin Cash. However, they have stated that others will be available in the future as well, which will most likely include the major ones, like Ethereum. As for how they will choose which ones to utilize, they leave us with this statement: “We will be looking closely at network hashing power, security, usefulness for payments, adoption, and market value as key factors in our decisions on which blockchain payments our platform will support.” It’s not clear just how many will end up being accepted (keep in mind that each additional one does bring additional overhead), but this is a massive step in the right direction.
You can check out the original announcement right here. If you’d like to see what their conversion rates are between BTC/BCH and various fiat currencies, you can do that here. Keep in mind that the values are always fluctuating, but when sending a deposit to one of the debit cards, the rate is locked for a short period of time to allow for sending the funds.
As for the acceptance of BCH, that should not be taken as investment advice. Each site and service makes its own choices as to what it accepts, and the altcoins being accepted by BitPay should not be used to drive individual decisions in what to purchase or hold. Just as easily as they can add new coins, they can also remove those that no longer fit their criteria, so always keep that in mind.
Header image source: BitPay